“Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?”
Politics has returned to the streets of the Republic. How long it will stay there and to what end is unknown. What is certain is that the issue of water charges has energised a segment of the working class which many had feared, and others had wished, had been cowed into submission.
The rampant corruption and cronyism of an elite which has flourished under neo-liberalism is in the sights of many thousands of ordinary people who for the first time in a generation feel they can do something about it. Of course, where this resistance leads is unpredictable and fraught with dangers.
The establishment backlash can be expected to be at the same time inept, cunning and brutal. The history of how the social uprising of the late 1960s both north and south of the border was deflected into sectarian strife among the working class in Northern Ireland is a salutary lesson on the lengths that the threatened establishment will go to.
Some, even in the workers’ movement, see any movement from below as a threat. What is clear, however, is that if the Left shirks its responsibility of giving guidance to and support for working class communities who have decided enough is enough then it no longer has a purpose.
The current campaign on water charges may be a false dawn, and inertia or fear may prevail but real change is needed. Unfortunately, a political vehicle capable of implementing the real and wide-ranging change that Ireland needsis yet to emerge or form from currently competing parts.
However, any group that is willing to accept and implement the popular will of the people would be a great improvement on the currently governing technocratic, reactionary political parties whose only role is to lull the population into accepting the diktats of international capital and improve the lifestyles of their own members.
We must remember that the socialist transformation of our society is a vital task and you can only stand with it or against it.