1. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union demonstrates that even weak parliamentary democracy is incompatible with escalating neoliberal inequality. In the UK as elsewhere a tiny segment of the population have taken a larger and larger share of total wealth in the last decades. Particularly under austerity almost everyone else has seen their share of the wealth they produce decline massively.
2. The Remain campaign was headed up by the political class of the neoliberal establishment and backed by model neo liberal corporations like Ryanair. But because the anger against rising inequality was successfully diverted through scapegoating already marginalized people, in particular migrants, the Leave campaign was also lead by wealthy elitist bigots whose variant of neoliberalism looks to the former colonies and the US rather than Europe.
May 22nd offers an opportunity for many of us in Ireland to strike a blow against homophobia in voting for Marriage equality.
On the 31st May, the Irish people will be asked to vote in a referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, commonly known as the Fiscal Compact Treaty. The YES side in the campaign argue that this is necessary in order to maintain stability across the EU, and the NO side argue that this treaty represents an enshrinement and continuation of the austerity we have faced since 2008. However, both sides, either through ignorance, cynicism or malice, portray the limitations of people's agency and power as the ticking of a box on a piece of paper.
The Workers Solidarity Movement is calling for a No vote in the Lisbon referendum. It is a treaty for the rich, people in Ireland can do a lot better than a choice between the clowns in the Dáil or those in Brussels.
We oppose the EU's policies of privatisation, militarisation and attacks on workers' conditions but don’t insult people’s intelligence by saying that our current society in Ireland with its severe recession, diabolical public services and corruption is anything better. The major lack of democracy in our lives is not between us and the EU but between the Irish government and us.
The upcoming Lisbon vote is one of the rare occasions that the people get a direct say. But it’s only a very limited say. We get to choose between either a gombeen republic or an embryonic European state, neither of which makes for an exciting prospect.
Whichever way the vote goes, there is no indication that either a yes or a no vote will substantially alter the exclusion of the public from major public decisions. That requires a rethinking of the kind of society we want.
The problem is not the treaty alone but the EU as an institution.We call on people to Vote No to Lisbon but also to organise to take more control of our lives and to build real democracy in our communities and our workplaces.
ANARCHISM AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY
1. Anarchists are generally hostile to decision making mechanisms that demand people put their faith in others to make decisions on their behalf without mandate or recall. We favour systems of direct democracy where the people either discuss and vote on an issue directly, or delegate other people to meet up for such discussions but these delegates are both mandated and recallable.
2. However, we insist that even a perfect democracy has no right to oppress a minority. There can be no democratic mandate for racism, sexism or homophobia.
The new Greek finance minister has tweeted that "Greece reforms' proposal sent to the Institutions and Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem" well ahead of the midnight deadline. If media reports are to be believed it appears the Syriza led government is offering massive further austerity cuts of 13 billion in return for some debt relief and a further 50 billion bailout.
The plans of the EU leadership for an engineered 'soft coup' are in tatters given the likely size of the OXI victory. They won't be able to pretend its a society 'divided down the middle'. The opposition leaders they hoped would head up a caretaker government are instead now under pressure to resign as it appears every district in Greece is voting NO.
We might’ve voted for equality in large numbers when it came to the marriage referendum, but the likelihood that this will impact on the way the country is run or the lived realities for many appears unlikely. This week the Irish Government is once again having their knuckles wrapped by the UN in Geneva for failing to live up to the documents they sign around the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The reality is that there has been the imposition of austerity measures on the sections of Irish society who can least afford it. The inevitable by-product is inequality, increasing poverty and deprivation. The message is simple, economy trumps all else and lip service is all that is all that is paid in terms of human rights or equality. Emily Logan – Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said as much, she said that ‘budgetary decisions had been made without any consideration of the State's human rights obligations.’ This is the reality that needs to be examined, especially in the aftermath of the sight of politicians kissing, smiling, hugging each other and slapping each other on the backs as champions of equality in Dublin Castle.
Marriage as an institution has no great appeal for anarchists. Its primary role in capitalist society is to regulate property ‘rights’ and to promote social norms. But we also know that in our current society marriage has a social standing to which many people aspire. To tell a significant section of the population that they should be denied access to marriage is to ask them to accept a secondclass position vis a vis their straight family members, workmates and friends.
Once it became clear that the Children's referendum was going to be passed Twitter came alive with outraged Yes campaigners complaining about the low turnout. It demonstrated that no one, it appears, was willing to 'think of the children.' Pop singer Sinead O'Connor went so far as to suggest that it should be made a criminal offence not to vote.