The Patriotic Call.
In his preparations to sell the people of Ireland to the banks, Brian Lenihan described his actions as a ‘patriotic call to action’. Patriotism in the eyes of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Labour Party and the Green Party is to bear the burden of the wealthy and unscrupulous gangsters who rob us. Patriotism in their eyes is to be the beasts of burden for others. Voiceless, aimless and subdued, permanently labouring for the benefit of a few and permanently in debt.
This is the patriotism of the capitalist patriot, who will wrap himself in the tricolour and shout about the nation, our own and the freedom to exploit!
Bear our burden, peasants!
For a decade now, we, the we, those who live North and South, who must sell themselves to the capitalist for a pitiful wage, who must obey the landlord like a soldier obeys an officer have become poorer. Poorer? How do we measure poverty? It is true that some of us can afford all the latest gadgets, but it is equally true that those of us who can afford a mobile phone that has a high quality camera cannot afford to have a proper roof over our heads, worse yet, we are not even given the opportunity.
It is equally true that we can buy some of the clothes that appears to be fashionable, but then it is equally true that while we can do that, we also wait for months, if not years for important medical appointments.
Despite the appearances of prosperity, the workers of Ireland are neither prosperous nor wealthy. We are merely the beasts of burden that produce wealth for various multinationals and bankers. We work so that they may be wealthy. We work, pay our rent and give away our lives so that those who do not work can fully embrace all that it entails to be human. Do workers not deserve more? Do we not deserve to express ourselves and embrace our humanity as well?
It would seem to any observer that the workers in Ireland should express their eternal gratitude for the opportunity to work, work and work! Beg for the scraps from the table.
Accept your place and hope that you do not get replaced.
Accept that some of your relatives will end up in the camps known as ‘family hubs’, an ironic name if any.
Accept that foreign asylum seekers are treated as if they were prisoners in direct provision centres.
Accept all of this and more, for it is not the place of the beast of burden to issue a challenge to their master.
The Capitalist Patriot.
This sort of patriotism is not limited to Ireland. For the British capitalist demands that the British people extol themselves to this form of patriotism as much as the Irish capitalist demands this of the Irish.
The Russian capitalist of the Russians.
The American capitalist of the Americans.
The German capitalist of the Germans.
All over the world, there is an international solidarity of patriotism among the exploiters. Their patriotism is unique and framed by their desire to unite in their unjust and rancid thievery of their fellow countrymen. Truly patriotic!
The Socialist Patriot.
My family is not of Irish stock. I have no ancestry to the emerald isle, no genetic connection to its people or its history but I declare myself a patriot of Ireland as any other would. You might scratch your head and ask how I can do so with a surname like ‘Homits’, it is not entirely common, but perhaps 3,000 years ago somewhere in the hills of Roscommon there was a Homits running about, ha!
Never the less, I declare my patriotism for Ireland. How and why? Well if we take into consideration the previous text above, one might presume that I am an exploiter from another land, come to pillage the people of Ireland, withdraw as much wealth as I can and live from my plunder. That is not the patriotism I refer to, even though it is the patriotism I was taught alongside other naive minds in school. Reared to be obedient, and a mindless beast of burden, in fact I felt myself collide with Ireland and even to my shame, looked down upon it. A very dialectical process, stimulated by my membership of the Communist Party of Ireland and the Connolly Youth Movement challenged the education I had received as a young boy in school. An education that denigrated and undermined Irish history, stealing the noble history of struggle. Liberty, social justice and democratic ownership of the economic model and its transformation were whittled down into a shoddy, Catholic, Conservative, undemocratic and unequal society.
All hail Daniel O’Connell and Eamon De Valera who championed narrow minded nationalism and the destruction of social equity and equality of condition! Why have any of this when we have an alliance of classes? Why have social equality and democratic management of the economy when we can simply swallow our pride and be the beasts of burden we are supposed to be?
In rejecting this patriotism I came to feel a different sort of patriotism. It is equally internationalist in nature and character. It is equally expressed by workers all over the world. It is different though. The patriotism blooming in my heart for Ireland is not of the exploitative value, but of love. Love for my friends who have suffered the brunt of austerity. Love for my family who can find no peace in permanent transience. Love for those who are evicted and punished by banks such as KBC. Love for those who surrender their lives to their employers and grind their mental and emotional well being into nothingness for the benefit of the few.
My patriotism and I think that of my comrades in the Communist movement is built around the desire to elevate the people of Ireland, no matter which creed, race or religion they come from. To elevate the people of Ireland we must face the reality of Ireland. Ireland exists to facilitate American, British and European capitalists. Money is made here and it leaves here. Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Labour Party and other coalition cronies fall into line cut, cut cut. Sometimes they masquerade the cuts by giving small concessions. As a comrade from Greece said: The capitalist social democrat gives one and takes ten. That is what they do when they cut all year round and then give minor budget concessions.
This is how they rob us of our lives, our dignity and our future. We are animals to them, we are these beasts of burden.
I declare my patriotism for Ireland because I declare my opposition to the inequity and injustice that exists in Ireland. I declare my patriotism because I cannot stand idly by and watch my friends end their lives or flee in every other direction but here. I declare my patriotism for Ireland because the crippling poverty dominating hundreds of thousands of people and keeping their bellies empty deeply and profoundly upsets me.
I declare my patriotism for Ireland because I live in Ireland and refuse to accept the suffering inflicted upon peers, my generation and my class as ‘normal’.
The late Brian Lenihan positioned patriotism as the desire to suffer at the behest of banks.
I say that patriotism is the desire to fully change and free Ireland of the many shackles it has bound around it, to sweep away the local collaborators and parasites who make their fortunes from the blood of the workers and to establish a sovereign, united and independent Workers Republic.
For centuries the battle lines have been drawn. Farmers were driven from their lands. Tenants evicted. Workers locked out. Activists shot at, imprisoned and captured. The greatest act of patriotism any person in Ireland, can do for Ireland is to join the battle against the exploiters. To do nothing for the cause of socialism in Ireland is to neglect your self sworn patriotism and to betray Ireland.
As James Connolly summarized.
“When Socialism is realised every child in our Irish soil will by the mere fact of its existence be an heir to, and partner in, all the country produces; will have the same right to an assured existence as the citizen has today to his citizenship – in fact that will then be the right of citizenship, the right to live in the country, and the right to enjoy those fruits of labour the country will yield to its children.
That is the reward you should render the children for their love of country; win the country for them and leave it behind you as theirs to enjoy free and unfettered – neither under the heel of foreign tyrant, nor yielding disguised tribute to native slave driver.
You cannot be doing, you are not doing, your duty to the children while you leave them to grow up amidst such surroundings as are to be found in the tenement houses of our city.
You are neglecting your duty as long as you allow your City Hall to be in the power of men who as landlords derive their living from the rents they extort out of the poisonous slums in which they are slowly murdering the children of the working class – those very children you professed to admire on Sunday.
You are traitor to your duty as long as you elect to Parliament the members of a political party which, like the Home Rule Party, is officered, managed and financed by that same class – the landlords of our city slums. “
James Connolly. 1900.