Change Won’t Come From the Ballot Box


Fintan O’Toole appears to want us to be listened to as citizens and believes that political reform is crucial. It is a natural reaction after witnessing the cronyism of Fianna Fáil in power over the last 13 years and how they’ve acted in favour of the ruling elite. The fact that I, as a taxpayer on €40,000 p.a., will pay exactly the same amount of tax as one on €300,000 p.a. puts that sharply into focus.

This is how Fianna Fáil runs tackle for IBEC, the tax dodgers of the golden circle and the IMF when it comes to protecting the interests of the bondholders. Let’s not forget that this is a political party that kissed goodbye to our natural resources for no good apparent reason. Thus there went €540 billion in the Corrib gas field that we could dearly use now. I can empathise with everyone who wishes to see an end to this regime. But political reform is won through struggle. It is not signed for in an on-line petition. It is not born out of necessity; it is born from acting in solidarity.

The ‘left block’ had a platform and speeches at the ICTU protest on November 29th last where, as well as advocating more protests and a general strike, we were subjected to talk of the election and the ‘opportunity it presented’ in voting for candidates from the United Left Alliance. As an anarchist I find it impossible to see how my life and the conditions we find ourselves in, or the prospects which face us, are improved by the fact that Joe Higgins or Richard Boyd Barrett are in the Dáil arguing against the policy which is being implemented by the Government.

This election will be another carnival. It is a spectator sport. The candidates take to the field and we get to choose who sits in the big house, and it can be entertaining. It will be pleasing if it proves to pass that we see Fianna Fáil spectacularly fall into oblivion, but it will not change our objective circumstances. Whatever Government comes into power will effectively be like the receiver appointed to wind up a company and ensure that the creditors get paid. They will appear to be powerless in the face of the IMF technocrats and the European Central Bank. It is not in the job description of any government to change the rules of this game.

How do we see change coming about? We bring about real change by becoming ungovernable. Not by choosing a new government and hoping for the best. Democracy is not the X-factor. It is making sure that decisions are made in the interests of the many, and not for the few. Democracy is about that, or it is not democracy.