In this guest piece Damien Walshe, long term anti-racist activist, takes the opportunity to reflect on what happend in the last week when State authorities acted to take away blonde children from their Roma parents.
“Damned if they did something, damned if they did nothing”
A standard response (and the one trotted out by the Minister for Justice) is that it was best for the HSE/Gardai to err on the side of caution: “better be safe than sorry” has been the mantra. Okay, let’s have a look at that statement: What the danger was established in order to abduct the two Roma children from their families? Under the Child Care act children can be taken into care if a child has or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused, or whose health, development or welfare has been or is likely to be impaired or neglected. No one has remotely suggested this was the case for either child.
Released in Summer 2011 and now in its second edition, Chavs is Owen Jones' attempt to help rescussitate debate around class within mainstream outdated concept and political discourse.
￼￼￼￼Broadly speaking, it is focused on the fate of working class communities in Britain since the Thatcher era and the disappearance of working class political representation, and puts forward some possible ideas to envision a renewed class politics for today. The book has proven a popular one and has propelled its author's public status as a prominent left-wing commentator, and one of the main voices of initiatives to reclaim the Labour Party as a working class organisation.
The Dublin Grassroots Network put a number of structures in place to avoid some of the pitfalls of dealing with the media. Perhaps the two biggest problems in dealing with the media are firstly that the media can, through the questions they ask and the pressures they bring, begin to set the political agenda of the group. Secondly servicing the media machine can take up all a group's time and energy (to the detriment of the other activity).
On one level the phrase "the media" simply refers to the various modern technologies for transmitting ideas to large populations, such as newspapers, television, magazines, radio and the new kid on the block, the Internet. These are extremely useful tools. They allow people to know what's happening in the world and hence share some common understanding with strangers. A fundamental precondition for achieving the type of revolutionary change that anarchists seek is that a large number of people actively desire it, or at the very least are open to it. Indeed, communicating "our beloved propaganda" to the masses has always played a major part in anarchist activity and hence we require the media. However, today, when we talk about the media, we also implicitly refer to the corporate machine that comes very close to operating monopoly control over mass communication.
It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the 'marching season' fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed neutrality of the northern regime and the RUC in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, Protestant and Catholic, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into 'their own' communities.
The Sunday Independent hasn't changed one bit since William Martin Murphy used it to vilify Jim Larkin and the locked out workers of 1913. These days, the anti-working class rag, now owned by Denis O'Brien's Independent News and Media group, uses it's influence to attack anti-water charge protesters.
Today's front page couldn't be topped for sensationalism, "Attack on democracy" screams the headline. Yesteryear, Jim Larkin was "Looking for Trouble". Both headlines legitimise state violence against protesters. Both headlines present opponents of the state and big business as a danger to society.
The real attack on democracy however, is the implementation of a water charge that no government has a mandate to introduce; It is the ripping up of streets to install water meters against the wishes of communities; It is the use of state police and private security to threaten, intimidate and assault protesters; and it is the control of the means of mass communication by a small group of super wealthy individuals.
We examine how the media determines and conditions the way that people think. When faced with broad opposition, we scrutinise how those in power rally behind the banners of no-change in order to keep things the way they are. We also see how they are assisted by the media in this exercise with the ultimate aim of maintaining power, privilege and control of our society.
Can you remember the last time you saw real story being broken in the media or printed press? When I was a young fellow I naively thought that I’d like to work as a journalist. You know those secret meetings with whistleblowers in subterranean car parks, all intrigue and mystery, digging for the truth. I envisioned myself building up a picture of the connections on a cork board, and stripping away at the official story to reveal the truth. I was chasing a dream. That world doesn’t exist and appears to have flourished only for the briefest of moments, a long time ago.
But as Wilde points out, a reading of history clearly shows that it has been disobedience, rebellion, and heresy, which have driven progress over the millennia. It seems almost too obvious to say, because the absence of resistance will obviously lead to nothing changing for the better.
Extraordinary stuff. The Party that failed to act for 20 years on the X-case legislation wanted emergency legislation rushed through the Dail in 24 hours to facilitate a Garth Brooks concert. The concerts now appear to be all cancelled following an announcement from the promoters but the entire episode shows how politicians found great urgency to act when it came to a populist money making cause that they could not locate anywhere when women's lives were under threat.