11 December 2005
THE HARD EDGE OF OUR APATHY
Volume 3, Number 10
8 December 2005
Posted by Peter Urban to >>Seven Stars
By Tomás Gorman
"What luck for rulers when men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler
Mr Hitler, I'm sure, would feel incredibly lucky if he were to witness the level of political apathy manifest in today's Ireland. Particularly here in the North where politics have been freshly branded in the old sectarian way by the failed Good Friday Agreement. Whilst new dynamics have been formed in the political landscape for new elites to benefit, the ordinary working person is turning away from what is essentially 'more of the same', whilst new, younger voters are unexcited and perhaps even embarrassed about having to identify themselves with either of the two opposing nationalistic blocs.
Sean McAughey's analysis, ("Those voting outside of the box are overall winners" The Blanket 11-05-05) highlights the growing apathy with which the 6 county population views the electoral representation model of democracy. This revolt could be viewed as progressive if the population were then in turn actively organising for a participative democracy model, but this, sadly, isn't so. The 'apathetics' conscious or sub-conscious decision to ignore the dark warning from Hitler surely comes at a cost as its shadow casts not just over electoral realms but rather permeates throughout our entire society as well as most of the "developed world".
Ideally, democracy is about participation and being involved in what goes on around us. So when ASDA-WALMART opened a store in West Belfast, one would ideally expect that the local population would turn their nose up at a supermarket chain that routinely exploits its own workers as well as their suppliers (see Joe Zacune's piece on ASDA in ZNet >>here).
On the contrary, people continue to pack its aisles in search, many out of necessity, for bargains. The local population is allowing the corporatist nightmare permitting the worst forms of managerial
authoritarianism to creep in through the back door in return for lower prices.
This insular culture of self-preservation, which is a direct result of market economy, has made itself felt in many facets of our society - for example, the escalating problems relating to our youth.
Belfast and Derry are experiencing a rapid growth in behavioural defects amongst their youth that was witnessed in urban areas of London, Middlesbrough and New York where a culture of community was scarce. Back home, our communal culture is eroding rapidly in conjunction with the rapid growth of an insular consumerist mindset, which could be a cause of our youths' social ills. Meanwhile tabloids such the populist Andersonstown News cry out in indignation about these thugs/scum, etc. whilst devoting roughly 50% of its pages to commercial advertising.
What is it going to take to jolt the local population and encourage them to re-engage with political issues that directly affect them? History has shown that the only way to do so in capitalist society is to affect the financial well being of the population. We are quite plump in an economic sense hence there is no real scope for radical political movements to gain a foothold in the public consciousness. The various groups raising the crucial issue of water privatisation have struggled to galvanise an organised response from ordinary working class communities [in the face of] the huge ramifications of the government's proposals. It is generally felt amongst the anti-watertax groups is that the major reaction will take really place [only] when the first bills hit the front doors. Meanwhile the groups prepare as much as possible in the face of this "last minute mentality".
Which is perhaps what the rest of us on the left can realistically do? There is a general feeling amongst the IRSP that its role is to push the radical socialist agenda as much a feasible whilst preparing the next generation for the next turbulent era of the ongoing struggle. In order to do fulfil the former duty the party along with other groups require a media platform from which to espouse its analysis and agenda.
Fortunately for us all there seems to be taking place what John Pilger describes as a
>>"News Revolution" as a result of which many of those wishing to seek credible "subjugated knowledge" are turning to unrestricted and uncontrolled web based news and comment sites for our information on local and global political current affairs. The growth of these sites is tantamount to the progress of radical political remedies for our societal rot and I long for the day those groups like Indymedia, ZNet, etc. expand onto other media realms such as the printed word and/or broadcasting. Until then it is up to the left to do what we can to plea with our communities, at a grass roots level as well as national and international level, to prepare for the worst rather than have to deal with the worst when it hits us hard.
The unsustainable beast of neo-liberal capitalism has those who benefit most from it sweating anxiously about the predictions of a global economic slump because of diminishing natural resources being unable to prop up rickety oil based global economy. Financial experts are predicting that oil production will peak in around 30-35 years time and after that oil will simply rocket in price until it is too expensive for all of us to use and in turn the world economy, without a replacement, will simply collapse causing extreme financial hardship amongst the have nots throughout the entire world. What luck for themselves if people actually did think and do something now before our next generation suffers the hard edge of our apathy.