Regardless of what background you come from or what circumstances your family is from, we all have a sense of justice in us that yearns for creating or developing a more equal and fair society. It just depends on which way you express your yearning for a better society and what exactly do you intend to do to make it more just and fair.
I grew up in a family that had economic and financial problems looming over it since I was born. This made my very young parents hard working, but also very conflicted. I don’t think they would have stayed together if I was not born and the pressure they faced and experienced would have made them go separate ways. This has definitely left an impact on me that I’ll carry on forever, it has definitely made an impact to how I see the world and it has definitely created, what can only be described as a difficult relationship with them.
That doesn’t make me unique, if anything I’m fairly sure everybody has their family difficulties and communication issues, some are more pronounced than others, some are less so, nobody lives the dream and that’s fine. My difficult relationship with my family doesn’t have a huge role to play for my political development but the context in which I was raised and the poverty we struggled through does. I am a witness to the catastrophes of the miserable failings of capitalism and as a witness it’s my duty to document it. As a Communist it’s my responsibility to combat it which means the two are interwoven into one another.
My struggles reflect individual issues but I would say these individual issues stem hugely from the socio-economic environment cultivated by the capitalist system. In short, my case is not unique, nor is it the first of its kind and unfortunately not the last. What is different is that I’ve made a determination and a conscious choice in my life. I’m a witness to my difficulties, but I won’t simply be a witness to the injustices and inequalities perpetrated by the ruling class of Ireland on its people.
When you yearn for a better society, at what point do you start? We all become politically conscious at different points, for me, it was the ruthless military operation carried out in Palestine in 2014 entitled ‘Operation Protective Edge’. I didn’t understand how a state armed to the teeth could send jets and fire cruiser missiles at children playing on the beach. I still don’t, it’s disgusting, but it was formative for me. The same year this happened there was a local election and I saw that the Communist Party of Ireland was running a candidate. Curious, I reached out to them.
The stereotypes ascribed to Communists are just that, stereotypes. The Party, despite at the time mostly consisting of older members was full of wisdom, guidance and strength. I didn’t receive any answers from my first meeting with them; in fact I walked away with more questions than I already had. I think this essentially characterizes the Irish Communist Movement, in Cork, Dublin or Belfast. Its role is not, like other parties to present the single gospel truth, but to provoke the development of consciousness and thought in those that seek it out as a Party or Movement. This is what made the Communist Party distinctly different, not only that, but I felt that its interest in more profound ways of changing society were reflective of its honesty with the people.
It, as a Party was not going to make promises simply for comfortable positions in Council or Parliament. I thought despite the propaganda, stereotypes, blacklisting and state harassment that the Party has experienced since formation, there was great resilience and passion among its members. They understood that there was a greater historic mission at hand that stood above them. Subsequently to joining the Communist Party of Ireland I also began to assist at the Independent Workers Union on North Main Street. It’s safe to say that the bulk of my political development took place from witnessing, daily, the plight of the working people of Cork. If you can see, hear and engage with the sort of issues that exist in the workplace and then live through the housing crisis, what further education do you really need?
No book can convey the struggles of our class or explain them so it was this time assisting in the Independent Workers Union that really helped crystalize my politics. My politics are actually simple and despite the slander given to Communists, appeal to many people.
I believe housing, education, health are human rights.
I believe society should be run for the benefit of the many, not the few.
I believe the only way to achieve that is to ensure mass democratic participation.
I believe that all major industries, natural resources and financial institutions should be publicly owned and managed for the mutual benefit of society.
I believe in economic equality and democracy as much as social equality.
What is it worth to be equal in the ballot box to the 8,000+ homeless people today? What is democracy worth to those unable to find work?
Freedom in Irish society is much like freedom in the times of the British Rule, freedom for the ruling class to rip rent from the pockets of workers and freedom for industries and commercial institutions to continue to amass wealth while the people of our beautiful emerald isle cry out in pain.