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21 January 2010 Edition

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THE JULIA CARNEY COLUMN

Why don’t right-wingers and capitalists take to the streets?

EVERY now and again, an article appears that is so self-evidently ridiculous, containing a poorly structured argument so laugh-out-loud terrible that I’m tempted simply to print it in full, but this option does strike me as a little lazy. I do strongly recommend people track this one down though. It’s worth reading in its entirety.
Tony Allwright is an engineering and industrial safety consultant. He also runs a blog at www.tallrite.com and occasionally contributes to ‘The Irish Times.’ It’s not clear why the ‘Times’ does this. It’s possible they see opening the paper to the more eccentric types on the internet as a way of provoking debate. Or it could be that, like me, they find Tony’s contributions secretly hilarious.
On Monday, Tony decided to explore why people on the Left take part in protests, direct action and the like but people on the Right don’t. Before we get to his answer, and later to the actual answer, he comes up with some gems.
“Individual threats of physical harm are invariably directed against right-leaning individuals. Left-wingers know they can express their views without fear of intimidation from their opponents, which cannot be said for the pro-capitalism camp.”
Where to begin?
With the tens of thousands of union members, public sector workers, teachers and political activists slaughtered by US-backed quasi-fascist regimes in South and Central America? Or in the United States where up until the middle of the 20th century union members were routinely harassed, imprisoned and occasionally murdered with impunity?
And if we want to take an Irish example, it’s generally left-wing activists that enjoy the dubious pleasure of a few swift digs from gardaí, such as the attacks on the ‘Reclaim the Streets’ protesters a few years back. Or we can ramble down to Corrib where the gardaí and a rag-tag group of mercenaries hired by Shell show no compunction about giving local people a bit of a hammering when they can get away with it. It wasn’t left-wing activists who boarded Pat O’Donnell’s boat and sank it.


TONY goes on: “Those ‘Not in Our Name’ thousands who demonstrated against the Iraq war formed the centrepoint of the Left’s campaign. Yet was it not odd that Right-leaning supporters of the war did not also stage demonstrations under banners such as ‘Free the Iraqi People’?”
Well, most of them didn’t give a toss about the Iraqi people, Tony.
When Iraqi children were dying in their droves because of US sanctions it was left-wing activists who took up the fight on their behalf while the Right cheered them on. It was the Right, in the form of western governments, who armed and protected Saddam in the 1980s.
So why doesn’t the Right take to streets? Tony says: “Logic is overwhelmingly on the side of the Right.” The Left protests, he argues, because we can’t come up with any logical arguments to support our position, so to push them “you have to put your own emotion into play. This in turn leads to the shouting.” Shouting no less. What’s the world coming to?
Yes, Tony, it’s because the Right – and clearly you’re thinking first and foremost of yourself here – are just so damn smart. If we learn nothing else from Tony’s article at least we have an idea of just how great his preening ego truly is.
Unfortunately, the actual reason the Right doesn’t take to the streets isn’t anything to laugh about. They don’t have to. The Right drives the agenda across political, social and economic spheres.
The reason people don’t hold demonstrations in support of Israel slaughtering Palestinians, beyond the rather obvious moral explanation, is that the Israelis don’t need the help. When you have Apache gunships and cluster munitions you don’t really need Tony Allwright standing outside the Palestinian Embassy waving a placard. Palestinians, on the other hand, need every bit of help they can get.


THE reason public sector workers take to the street is because the Government has cut their wages by 20%. People like Tony, who advocate cuts in the public sector, don’t need to get onto the streets to make it happen. Big business doesn’t host demonstrations; it invites the Finance Minister or the Trade & Enterprise Minister for lunch to pick up his to-do list.
Climate change deniers didn’t hold a counter-demo at Copenhagen, as Tony urged (told you he was smart), because they had the economic and political muscle to ensure there wasn’t going to be a deal that would damage their business interests.
When you have the money and the guns, you don’t need facts, which, for the Right, tend to be inconvenient, or to mobilise people.
Actually, that’s what you fear the most.

Gardaí in Bellinaboy giving local people a bit of a battering 

 

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