UNLOCK NAMA - rushed notes from the front lines of the 'class war'.
Unlock Nama Meeting Wynnes Hotel Thursday March 29th
I was criticising Conor McCabe on the Vincent Browne show for not presenting a compelling alternative to our dysfunctional system. And Jesus it's probably just as well he did not. Cos if it sounded anything like the one he gave tonight he would have terminated the possibility of any empathy with the cause he espouses. But tonight we got it and sadly the vision sounded way too like division to me. Not the predictable Judaen People's Liberation front variety - although boy did we have that - but the sort of division that the Pope lacks. Panzers. To to the tanks men! Let's take em out. Seriously folks we actually had a rabble rousing call to arms, a declaration of class war.
McCabe rightly pointed out that much of the cancer that blights our society is actually legal. Ok it's not illegal but is it right? According to Conor it doesn't matter. They are right. We too are right. Who are 'they' and who are 'we'. Sadly we were back to simplistic class cliche to work out who the enemy is. The Occupy movement - as distinct from the local Khmer Rouge wing about which there will be more later - struck a chord because it emerged from the modern world and jettisoned class cliche with its more pertinent 99% versus 1%. (It in itself a somewhat simplistic acknowledgement of the radical shift of wealth distribution in the past 20 years) The 'working class' as a social/political phenomenon now, as far as I can see, lives in Asia. While back in the West the predatory lions of capitalism roam the denuded 'wild' seeking to devour the gazelles irrespective of their preference of tweed over donkey jackets. But apparently the savannah ain't big enough for the two of us. So someone has gotta go... grave side. That's fighting talk!
Meanwhile history has granted us an unprecedented moment to question the lion's right to prey. The perfect storm of total economic breakdown, the once in 50 lifetimes opportunity is here now as we speak. So here's the moment to look at capitalism in terms of the social carnage it has created and to posit some alternative vision for the future.
And Conor, speaking honestly to his credit, did posit a vision for the future.
Forget fighting corruption within the current system cos the system itself is corrupt. Cool. So far so good. Forget wrong or right. Hmmm They are right. We are right. Big Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm The difference? The difference is, as I mentioned already, some ill defined outdated notion of class Both competing sides are valid so we just crush their side. We declare war. Rousing stuff. That's what meetings are for. Or so they say.
So it's just as well Conor did not do justice to his vision on TV the other night...cos ultimately it seems to come down to some Darwinian supremacy.
My gang is bigger than your gang!
Instantly the Khmer Rouge wing of the Occupy meeting was on its feet.
One of them threw a deadly barb at Conor: "Middle class."
Another bearded cadre, the one who appeared in the truly embarassing Occupy the Aras clip, and his mate shouted "coward".
Barely had war been declared and the room filled with cries of dick size. What a surprise. That's war for you. Messy. Unpredictable. And profoundly male.
Thankfully sense came in the usual shape of a woman. But the dame comes later.
I had been previously been wondering when I stuck up notices of the meeting both here and in the other gaffe about the choice of words: Unlock Nama and had presumed that feuding had ruled out the use of Occupy.
I also found it strange that I was publicising a meeting on a topic of huge interest to the Irish people. That recent youtube clip of the attempted eviction near Athy (?) got over 300,000 views.
300.000 and there are no jokes, no violence, no nudity. Nor is there even any sound legal advice to be gleamed. And still 300,000. You don't need to be a genius to know that this is raw, visceral stuff. This is the stuff revolutions are made of. But if we're gonna have a revolution, let's not get too male on it. Let's get it right.
But tonight despite inadvertently doing their best to ensure a limited attendance there were about 120 people there. (Sure why inform the public?) A lot though were the usual suspects though. Which is probably just as well cos Joe public is not that wild about the idea of war. (Thanks be to God)
I have quite some respect for Mr McCabe. And despite appearances, I don't entirely rule out the concept of warfare. But I have very little time for the concept of beautiful losers. Especially when there is so much at stake. And especially - and I know this is hard for quite a few people in that room to accept- when there is finally a possibility of winning.
If you are going to declare war, you do it when you are sure of winning and you do it for the right reasons. And you don't do it when you only have mustered 120 people on a life and death issue. A rank and file of 120 people. That's scary! In the wrong sense of scary. Cos that's not enough for a decent mini marathon never to mind military manoeuvre.
So this is the time for communication, not conflict. And first there is the issue of what is being communicated
Conor presented a vision where we merely change the people who oppress others. Admittedly on behalf of what is supposedly a majority. Allowing for the greater beneficiaries, there was still something so naked and so brutish in the bellicose vision. The whole doing wrong for right gig. Ends/means yabba yabba yabba.
But why go so lazy. Why stick to that old yellowing script?
The people are clamouring for that difficult elusive concept: a fair and just alternative.
It's not as rousing as declaring war. Well not to the boys anyhow.
The women can be a bit better when it comes to an alternative.
And the time has never been better for delivering one.
Not just a change in the accents administering power.
Somewhere in the structure of power and our evolving relation to it lies the root of the tension between the Occupy movement - as distinct from Khmer Rouge wing that were aptly vocal and present tonight - and the traditional left.
Although still vague and diffuse, the left still clings to much of the patriarchal, vertical structures of power; the power structures which were born out of the printing press: you know the whole reasoned rational democratic debate gig that's built around some medieval might.
The embryonic political structures emerging out of the digital revolution clash big time with the old left world view.
Now of course there are issues of clarity, focus and organisation but somewhere in the animosity lies the roots of something new.
There is still something new on a meta level despite the dispute we witnessed tonight between Occupy debris and leftie stalwart being perhaps more familiar to a caveman than Paul Mason.
But as Mason too gropes to explain; somewhere in the changing manner of processing knowledge and then there's the weird new undefined dimension, a new metaphysics which seems to have its roots, without sounding too Simpson like, in the technology.
And we are talking something more profound than a hipster hail Apple song.
So here we were in the political protest clash of civilisations. But all was not in vain thanks to the input of one woman who instinctively knew what was to be done. A trade unionist teacher with the energy to run a country got up a made a speech about the lack of space for classes and how some, presumably adult education classes were being conducted in buildings that were being rented. Funds restricting classes. Funds going on rent. Empty building. Join the dots. Go figure. Some common sense.
The oh so obvious solution: help people.
Short of a fleet to tabloids to help your sell your martial plans and a historical tradition of putting the boot in to help recruit grunts, declaring war is not attractive. People don't like it. If you spend some time in one, it's very easy to see why they it's not best selling idea to people. That's goes some way to explain the concept of conscription.
People generally prefer living to dying.
Although they now seem condemned to a new zone between the two - a paupers' purgatory.
Give the people a class room for their kids not a class war.
Give the people a creche.
If people trust you to mind their children, they'll trust you with anything.
With enough people you wont have to go to war.
And from experience we all know that killing people is really messy. Things go off-script.
The guy tonight living in Argentina spoke of the slogan: No Houses Without People, No People Without Houses.
We need a new Land League.
We need an office.
We need a database.
There are lots of skilled people with nothing to do.
Do up ghosts estates. Start handing them out to the needy.
Maybe use the corpo housing list at first so favouritism is not an option/issue.
Looking at the response to the household charge, could you imagine anyone trying to stop you doing up a ghost estate to house people.
Don't think so.
The first creche, the first adult eduction centre, the first ghost estate brought to life will bring a victory far greater than any battle against any supposed class enemy.
I can just see us out there, the Marxist Militia, AK in one hand and calculator in the other: "OK so the car is part of your work and allowing for taxes... eh... still... when I add everything up you are 20 quid over the limit and I therefore declare you a class enemy and sentence you to death." BANG. You won't be needing that car now. Ooops meet the new boss etc
So thanks to the teacher the idea got aired.
And the post declaration of war shouts about who was middle class, who was a coward, who ran from the police did nothing to detract from an idea whose time has come.
You offer the people a service and they will see you are for real.
Despite what you said Conor, the problem is ultimately not the other side are legal, it's that they are wrong. Profoundly so. To ape their power structures means we too would be wrong. And it's not the right time to be wrong.
I, for one, will offer any assistance I can provide to occupy Nama. To give back to the people the property that belongs to them. That they have paid for through bailouts and subsidies.
No people without houses, no houses without people
For an excellent account by Mick O Broin of why Nama needs to be invaded, occupied and put to our use check here