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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 18, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    The Power of Victimhood

    Deaglán de Bréadún

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    There is another Right to Work demo tonight at Leinster House. You can bet the Gardaí and other security personnel will be more prepared this time. The aggro last week was small beer compared to what has been happening in Greece or Thailand but clearly there are a few protesters who want to leave aside the speechifying and get into serious confrontation with the State.

    My bet is tonight will be pretty quiet and peaceful apart from the rhetoric on the platform.

    The Greek revolt seems to be dying down. From the point of view of the demonstrators it was extremely unfortunate that three people, including a pregnant woman, were burnt to death in a bank during one of the protests.

    To be coldly clinical about it and this is not cynicism, just harsh reality,  it’s supposed to be the other way round. The “fascist pig-police” are meant to show their “inherently brutal” nature by clubbing to death some unfortunate sociology student in his early 20s.

    Time and again that type of incident has awoken mass sympathy for the protesters whose subsequent demos increase exponentially.

    Force is not the key factor in modern politics. Victimhood is what you need.

    Look at our own struggle for independence. If the British hadn’t executed the leaders, then 1916 would have gone down in history as another failed putsch, in the same tradition as Robert Emmet’s minor revolt or the abortive Fenian rising of 1867. They would probably still be talking about the innocent civilians who were killed in crossfire as a result of the “undemocratic” action taken by a tiny group of  “fanatics”.

    The ambush that Kevin Barry took part in was of no signficance in military terms. But the jaw-droppingly stupid decision to hang the “lad of 18 summers” changed the climate of opinion throughout the country.

    Terence MacSwiney said it was not those who inflicted most but those who endured most who would prevail. He proved that with his own hunger-strike.

    The only thing the State needs to fear about demonstrations such as the one planned for tonight is that some young protester is badly injured or worse in a confrontation, giving rise to widespread public anger and more and more, bigger and bigger demos, more and more frequently,  after that. But that is very unlikely to happen. At least not  this time.

    • Liam says:

      I must say I’d like to take part in a protest but these protests appear to be always dominated by the loony left so I do not want to lend my support to them. I guess as long as the gov do not bring PAYE taxes back up to the 1980’s levels the silent majority will just endure like the frogs in the pot. Personally I just think it’s every man for themselves at this stage and don’t expect any white knights to come and save the day
      I know in the US the Tea-Party movement has its flaws but at least their goals are something that “some” working and middle class people can identify with. Here no one is speaking up against a government that’s running up intergenerational debts that will backfire on my kids.
      I think I will end up doing what Germans are beginning to do and that is to buy gold and dump the Euro, that’s how Germans protest!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      I get the prissy sniffing from the sort of people who have got used to never being held to account for their actions and who are so removed from reality they think they are some sort of aristocracy – we know what happened to them in most banana republics eventually.

      But is it really so wrong to kind of wish to see some of the occupants of Leinster House dragged out by the scruff of their neck, along with some of the officials who hide in various departments and then some of the high flyers from the Celtic Tiger era like Seanie or Fingers – we see them and their families swanning about playing golf without having to make a single adjustment to their lifestyle despite where the wealth to pay for that lifestyle came from and the consequences of the way it was accumulated and yet in the US the Madoffs literally had to sell the kitchen sink.

      We can be sure that in a legal sense the Irish people will get no justice – look at Goodman 20 years on – but at least seeing some of them get physical justice would serve to release some of the anger.

      Funny how it’s always those most insulated from reality – politicians, business people, professionals and the media – who are always horrified that the ‘ordinary’ people would dare express their anger at the mess those same people caused.

      How exactly do those who tut tut at any display of anger towards those who fattened themselves off the corruption of the last 35 to 40 years explain how those of us yet again paying for the failings of an elite will get justice for what was done?

      The effect of borrowing billions to bail out a golden circle and those who feed off it is not without consequences. Those billions need to be repaid and the money used to repay it is diverted away from providing services the majority depend on and the cuts in those services will start affecting those who are already the most marginalised – that happens on the basis those people never fight back.

      Well maybe they will start fighting back and if it takes someone like Boyd Barret to articulate their anger then more power to him and he puts fear into those elites who caused this mess then even more power to him.

      So instead of trying to do down those who are so exasperated they have lost their temper – why not try to direct attention to why it is that those who caused this mess have still not been held to account and that all the tax reliefs and pensions and expenses and salaries they get haven’t even been touched anything like to the level they should have been but they has been no problem moving to cut back on areas that don’t impact on the day to day lives of the elites.

    • robespierre says:

      Anger is not a policy. If there are credible solutions I would be willing to knock on doors, sit in smoky rooms again and flesh out policy like I did when I was in FG.

      My issue is that all the main parties have serious credibility gaps, they are effectively highly paid part-time ministers and politicians running around like headless chickens.

      Serious times call for a serious response. Slavish adherence to dogma of the left or of the right will not create the path out of our morass. We need to reimagine our priorities and agree a shock therapy program like the best adjusted economies post 1989 did in central and eastern europe.

      That is how you reboot an economy.

    • XXfactor says:

      @1 You can always ‘Talk to Joe’

    • XXfactor says:

      You mean they’re actually telling the Gardai that there’s going to be a protest? DOH!

    • Liam says:

      @4 nah, I prefer buying gold and moving my savings off shore (if the revenue are reading I am not buying gold and not moving my savings off shore)

    • Kynos says:

      You’re right Deaglá in that this rotten corrupt and disgraceful State should fear the death or injury of one of Her citizens or residents at the batons or worse of Her agents. That would serve as a very convenient detonator for a Second Rising. But there are other triggers, many other ones and no doubt most we won’t even have thought of. I deplore violence, but the Irish People have been shafted and screwed by those supposed to serve them far worse than anything the Brits did in recent memory. Xing. The release of the trigger, in Chinese is called Xing (pronounced Zhing, very onomatopoeic). The conversion of potential energy into kinetic. That which starts a pile of round logs and square logs, round stones and square ones, all together, rolling a thousand li down a mountain, obliterating all before them. They have treaded all over our dreams and they have not trod softly. There will be a reckoning for Fianna Fail and their puppetmasters. I hope there is no bloodshed. Maybe when they start attacking the pensioners, or the medical card holders, or double our tax rate, or (as we see most disgustingly today) chasing dead old ladies whose deaths occurred in their care for a few bob and them 5 years cold in their graves. Who knows? Only one thing we do know. It is coming and when it comes it will be well I don’t want to say.

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