Front page article from The Leveller May 2019, issue 22.
The ‘great and the good’ are at it again, calling around our doors looking for our X in a box beside their name. This time it’s the Belfast city council elections and it has been made clear it is to be conducted as another sectarian headcount. Fear of them uns being the biggest party and forcing a border-poll is set against them uns creating a hard border post-Brexit and all that is good melting into air.
At Westminster the government is little more than a farcical sideshow, nothing more than a distraction, incapable of reaching agreement on just how the UK should leave the European Union. Locally we have allegedly had ‘no government’ since the 26th January 2017. Yet up to the 23rd of April this absence of government has cost £9,720,039 in MLA’s salaries alone.
This alleged lack of government has been blamed on almost all of society’s ills. Job losses, endemic homelessness, hospital waiting lists, zero-hours contracts, crippling poverty, the weather, all of it could be sorted if only we had our local Assembly up and running again and the politicians doing their jobs. Government can save us is the message from the Trade Union leadership, much of the ‘left’, that ‘radical’ middleclass alternative to sectarian politics the Greens, NGOs, the charity sector, academic political pundits, and occasionally, at least in lip service, the DUP and Sinn Fein themselves. So much so that we have even seen graffiti demanding ‘Government Now!’.
Government, let us be clear, hasn’t gone away you know. The civil service, police, judiciary, the state apparatus continues to function without ‘our’ MLAs. While we do not yet have outright direct rule, the direction follows the austerity agenda of Westminster. It is an agenda which ‘our’ MLAs implemented without compunction when they were in office.
Let us be clear about this too, the current situation, particularly given the implementation of already devastating welfare cuts, actually suits the main political parties. Unionists long ago accepted the neo-liberal mantra that There Is No Alternative while it is many years since Sinn Fein declared they had no problem with capitalism (not that they ever really did). The DUP are for now content to play at politics at Westminster while Sinn Fein do the same in the Dail. When it comes time for them to agree to forming a government locally it will be when they can both waltz in declaring ‘non mea culpa’ in the midst of all the suffering inflicted in their ‘absence’.
In truth they do not give a fuck about the lives of the ballot fodder they expect to put an ‘x’ beside their candidates, time after time, in their regular sectarian headcounts.
It is government, the political wing of capitalism, not anarchism, which is wreaking chaos and havoc down upon the vast majority here, across Ireland and the UK, across Europe and globally. We do not need to put an ‘x’ beside the names of anyone who claims they can represent us – we need to get organised, to take control of our lives, our communities, our workplaces. We don’t need ongoing environmental destruction, wars, famine, banks, sectarianism, division and corruption! We need class unity and real change, we need to fight and win against a defunct system which has for so long got away with giving us chaos, destruction and suffering. We need to seize control for ourselves, ridding ourselves of sectarianism, racism, capitalism and patriarchy once and for all. Doing this demands organisation, not chaos. Chaos is all they have to offer – we have a world to build.