Such was the case yesterday when I noted that I had received traffic from the irishrepublican.net site, where my post on the Monaghan Soviet was being discussed (and many thanks to the poster tireoghan for linking to this blog). One of the posters on the site, Seamy (which, my American friends please note, is pronounced "Shamey", not "Seemy") noted that my initial posting on Monaghan's revolutionary past had been somewhat incomplete, in that I suggested the Irish today were not prepared to engage in real political change, without providing any reasons as to why this inertia has developed. As Seamy put it himself:
In answer to Seamy's question, yes, I fail to grasp dialectics, mainly because I have no idea what the hell they are. Seamy is, unsportingly, using the unfair advantages often deployed by the left when I begin arguing with them: intelligence and big words. However, even my sluggish capitalist mind can, I believe, discern that Seamy is pointing out that the Irish may have become so addled with the comforts of the boom years that they are now incapable of revolution, reform or any other exciting r-words. I think that there is certainly some truth in this, although I would tend to argue (as did tireoghan) that this is due to a large section of our society still having a stake in the lies and falsehoods peddled by Fianna Fail. This is not just the big property developers either, but extends right through the citizenry of our "republic" - after all, the professional landlord/doctor/garda/teacher/shopkeeper with a few buy-to-lets are all just as fearful as Johnny Ronan of property trading at a realistic value. They too hope that we have "turned a corner" and that our Lazarus like recovery has begun.So that fella's central arguement is that out of the blue, Irish people have become lazy, sluggish and politically disengaged without offering any credible explanations why. Does he fail also to grasp the basic concepts of dialectics which states that motion is never fixed and is always changing, the same can be applied to human nature and political attitudes. Yes, during the good ol' years of neoliberalism people were politically disengaged as naturally there is no real need to be when you have a more or less stable economic situation. However the financial crisis, the bank bailouts and now the frantic budget slashing all over Europe is waking people up to the realities of life under capitalism and drawing more and more previously apolitical workers and youth towards potentially revolutionary politics
I would also humbly point out to Seamy that to suggest that periods of plenty tend to dampen the ardour of the revolutionary spirit should result in the corollary that periods of want create the conditions for rebellion against the status quo. Yet the period of greatest need in the modern history of Ireland, the Great Famine, resulted in only a tiny insurrection limited to one village in 1848, which can't compare to the events elsewhere in Europe over the course of that year.
By comparison, the rebellions of 1798 and 1916 occured in circumstances far less economically pressing than those of the Great Famine, yet something lit the touch paper of national consciousness, and the we rose up. In essence, it will take more than mere economic difficulties to get the Irish to seek change now - too many of us have a stake in the current system of government, and we do not seem to understand that the current FF government is ruling in the same manner as their British predecessors. The hunger for change is driven by emotion and a sense of justice as much as cold economics.
Seamy, if you (or any of your colleagues at Irish Republican) read this, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.