Back in 2007 I wrote an article for An Phoblacht about a debate within Sinn Féin on taking a position on coalition with Fianna Fáil.
I ventured a view that having upwards of 20 TDs elected would not of itself necessarily move the aims and objectives of the party forward if other factors influencing power in the State were not adequately addressed. Nothing new or earth shattering there. With all the reactionary forces that are marshalled to resist progressive change, it has always been necessary to have a subversive mindset when trying to fight for a civilised future.
It was hard to argue against comrades who took me to task. Of course 20 plus TDs would make a difference.I could not have foreseen how this current crisis would lead to the sweeping away of any semblance of democratic control over fiscal policy. Now we have a situation where having a majority government fails to guarantee the implementation of manifesto commitments let alone a vision of society fairly put before an electorate.
As I am reaching a phase of life when I could be tempted by moderation and cooperation in politics, I find myself returning to the conclusion that laws will have to be broken and broken regularly to get out of this straitjacket into which we have been put.
For unions to effectively represent their members, they will have to defy legislation. The type of industrial action that has been curtailed by successive legislation and supported by political and media-led conditioning of the public will have to be embarked on just so that basic pay and conditions can be maintained. That or the labour movement will be destroyed - long the aim of the architects to neoliberalism.
Any government made up of progressive political parties will have to defy EU diktat in order to deliver any level of equality to an electorate who would have chosen an alternative to neoliberalism. That, or be party to wiping out many of the gains made by working people over many decades of struggle.
Without conflict of this type, austerity will put us back decades.
The challenge facing the progressive left is to accept that realpolitik as proscribed as the political norm - even in opposition - is useless. What are we to be the better managers of? Events have moved beyond this. The Dail and Council chambers will have to be disrupted - because simply opposing a puppet government is literally a waste of time.
During the 1920s the Labour group on Poplar Council (A borough in East London, near to where I grew up) were sent to jail en masse for defying bad law in defence of the ordinary working people. They were castigated by the media and called economically and politically illiterate by 'responsible' politicians, including the leadership of their own party.
The 'yes' vote in the austerity referendum is no green light to guarantee barbarity over civilisation. There is a huge international mandate from the ordinary people of Europe and beyond to fight on. The headlines that will give the necessary encouragement to the people on the front line are not those that show Sinn Féin and the ULA as effective Dáil performers. Rather, they will need to see these parties and others creating havoc. It is up to these parties to help cause a crisis. There seems little point in being in these chambers otherwise, under the current conditions.