Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Working Class Revolutionaries? What Working Class Revolutionaries?

Posted by Jason O on Aug 18, 2010 in Irish Politics |

I'll stand outside the GPO posing whilst you actually pass legislation!

I'll stand outside the GPO posing whilst you actually pass legislation!

“The vast majiority (sic) of MIDDLE CLASS southerners dont want to end partition….But as James Connolly said it is the Irish working class that is the incorruptible heirs of Irish Freedom. The southern middle class and indeed if we are truthful the upper layers off the working class have been bought off by Imperialism and become utterly decadent.”

The above quote was posted on Politics.ie on a thread about whether the republic actually wants a united Ireland or not. I love this quote, because it is absolutely chock-a-block full of the stuff that makes me laugh. Exhibit A: Middle class in capitals, pointing out that a political view held by middle class people is not quite as legitimate as the lower orders. Then the reference to James Connolly, the shake-and-vac of political legitimacy. If James Connolly said it, it must be true! Then, to cap it off, a good go at not only the middle class but working class people who have good jobs. The bastards! And finally my favourite: The use of the word decadent, the ultimate slur, as if basically the middle classes spend all their time at orgies and getting gout.

This quote caught my eye because it reminded me of a row I had once with a councillor from the Socialist Party on Newstalk about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. She could not accept that MT had actually done anything for working class people, and that, more importantly, that very large numbers of working class people voted for her. The quote above is loitering around the same territory, because here’s the reality: The rise of the new right, the Thatchers and the Reagans, is caused by working class voters. Biggest group of reactionary voters who voted against President Obama? White working class male voters. Biggest group opposed to civil rights in the 1960s in the US? White working class male voters. When middle class British voters were voting for the moderate SDP in 1983, working class voters were salivating over Mrs Thatcher blowing the shit out of (working class) Argies.

The fact is, the working class are the most reactionary voters out there. Just talk to Sinn Fein voters about immigration. Which class of voters will remain most loyal to FF TDs for their local graft? Working class voters. In the north of Ireland, what class produced the most psychos, republican or loyalist, willing to blow another working class person away because he prayed the wrong way? I’ll give you a clue: They weren’t shopping at Marks and Spencer.

Who was it who pushed civil rights, ended slavery, brought in gay rights and equality for women? Fact: Revolutions are led by the middle class.   

4 Comments


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david morris
Aug 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Great Post !

Kind regards


 
Eugene (ex RTC Tallaght '92)
Aug 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Well Jason, I have been watching your website for a long time now and I have to step in now and make a comment about your opinions on who leads revolutions and the like in history. Of course its true the “middle-class”, a very historical changeable concept, have lead revolutions around the world, mostly during the 18 and 19th centuries, with many famous examples, 1789 and 1848 the most important . But they need the “great unwashed”, the working people if you prefer it, to make up the numbers. Because it is a numbers game at the end of the day, isn’t it?

Unfortunately as you know well, if you half make a revolution, you dig your own grave. Just look at our incomplete revolution from 1916 to 1923, lead by the Sinn Fein party mostly and the middle class in the leading positions, telling people “Labour must wait”, and leaving the country basically a 2 party, one religion state.

Not a great example in leadership and its only in the last 20 years we have got to modernize ourselves. But surely it is still incomplete and needs finishing at some point, which section of society can fulfill that role? “The Risen People” as the play from James Plunkett was called after. You might disagree I guess..


 
Jason O
Aug 19, 2010 at 5:40 am

Still fighting for the revolution, eh Eugene? There’s an image that has always struck me, taken during the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin, of the Dublin poor, many of the them shoeless, grovelling as the bishops and the cardinals waft past in their fineries. We’ve had proportional representation the entire life of this republic, so where was the even small left wing anti-clerical party? Even in the worst Dublin tenements the working class were belting out decades of the rosary as opposed to using their substantial numbers to elect radicals to speak for their needs. Say what you will about Thatcherism, but it allowed a section of the working class to break free and be their own masters, as opposed to taking the scraps of an economy swept to them through the welfare state. That’s the key, you see: the state does not fear the working class. We have a dependency inducing welfare state and a police force to contain them. But when the middle class speak up, that’s when our political masters shift uneasily in their seats.


 

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