there may not be a coup against a sf gov, but not because the rich aren't nasty enough!
James O'Toole writes after media fuss regarding the People Before Profit pamphlet on left government.
It wasn't long ago that a Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, was meeting people in car parks to lie
and smear Maurice McCabe as a child abuser to silence a critic of the State. So it's clear that
mainstream journalists like Fionnan Sheahan have very short memories when they fake outrage over
the suggestion that the rich would attack a left government!
The irony is that the attacks on the left over the last week or so are exactly the kind of thing we're
talking about happening in a much more intense way when class struggle escalates and the left grows.
Sure during water charges they even compared us, working class protesters, to bleedin' "ISIS!"
In recent debates over the eviction bill the government took the side of vulture funds who were worried
about "growing their investments". The landlord lobby threatened that more landlords would leave the
market unless the government did what they wanted. So, the government made thousands homeless.
We suffered a decade of austerity to bail out Europe's banking system - paying 42% of the bailout
costs of European banks - with the EU threatening that an "economic bomb" would go off in Dublin if
we didn't play ball.
This is the same bullying that occurs on a much grander scale when the left is elected to power. While
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael don't need much incentive to play ball - the rich pull out all the stops when
they feel challenged.
Look at how much damage Denis O'Brien or Larry Goodman could do with their billions? Goodman
could threaten food production or mass layoffs. The rich control the media and they have their
puppets running every level of the state - from the top civil servants to the heads of the Gardaí.
The most intense example of what the rich can do was Chile in 1973 where the left government of
Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Pinochet with help from the CIA. That's no conspiracy
theory - it's a widely documented fact. 30,000 working class people were massacred - their crime?
They wanted a better life.
For a more recent example just look at Greece - on the back of brutal austerity and mass resistance
through dozens of general strikes the left party Syriza came to power. From the powers that be in the
EU to the selfish Greek rich - threats were made to the solvency of the banking system, they
threatened to sink the economy.
Syriza played ball and surrendered to the rich bullies. They always had believed you could tame the
system from within. They were wrong. As are Sinn Féin when they think they can "balance" between
workers and bosses and keep everyone happy. You just can't. You have to choose a side.
Sinn Féin are living rent free in the minds of most middle class journalists in Ireland, who love to attack
the party over trivia while the establishment parties destroy tens of thousands of working class lives.
If a Sinn Féin led government came to power this establishment bullying would become far more
intense - but what would Sinn Féin do?
When Sinn Féin went into Leinster House after the last election to discuss government formation they
had to meet senior civil servant Martin Fraser. Fraser had previously advised the government and
recommended austerity during the years after the banking crash.
Any party wishing to form a government meets with the senior civil servants and negotiates a
programme for government - within parameters set by the system.
Mary Lou McDonald says Sinn Féin will not tax business into "oblivion" and has a deep interest in
promoting "successful businesses" which share "common goals" with her party.
She has also described the tax haven policies of corporate foreign direct investment as a "core
component of the investment landscape" and said Sinn Féin has a "vested interest in commercial and
business success". They want to leave the tax haven economy as it is - with a few tweaks here and
Speaking to an audience of Dublin business leaders she said: "I want to say to you very clearly: I don't
see our interests at odds. I think we share common interests and common goals."
The rich will soon see that Sinn Féin, even more so than Syriza did, are willing to play ball and so there
will be no need for the kind of sabotage the rich would unleash on anyone trying to achieve real
change - no need for a "coup" of any kind.
The bosses in the North are content with Sinn Féin in power. There hasn't been a coup!
So, can a left government actually challenge capitalism?
Not one left government ever has. In over a century. That's because the soft left parties that make up
such governments surrender to the system unless there's massive struggle on the streets - but even
those parties play a role in disorganising that struggle.
Salvador Allende attacked Chilean workers who had taken over workplaces - he used state forces
against the movement. Syriza ignored the votes of the Greek people and used influence over the
trade union bureaucracies to try to tame striking workers.
We in the Red Network really want to see a left government in Ireland, not because we've any illusions
in Sinn Féin, but because it will break the monopoly on power held by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for
over 100 years. But it will also open workers' eyes to the necessity of doing far more than just electing
a left government. As socialist author Chris Harman once noted:
"Hence the all-important paradox: the advent of a left government will only strengthen the workers'
movement in as much as the class, or at least its vanguard, do not have illusions in this government.
The more independent and strong the workers' movement is, the more reforms it will force from the
government. The more it relies on its own forms of organisation, the more the way is open to a
The left will need to keep Sinn Féin on their toes. The best place to do that is not by sitting in a
Ministerial office bound hand and foot by cabinet confidentiality, but by voting on a case-by-case basis
for any positives that Sinn Féin can achieve and holding them to account when they surrender to the
bullying tax haven establishment.
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