Is there space for different views in the new dispensation?

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‘Freedom is always, and exclusively, the freedom to think differently’- Rosa Luxemburg

Many times in this newspaper I’ve referred to both the practical and political limits of the new dispensation. Although, there is a widely purported myth that liberal democracy gives ‘freedom of speech’ to the people, there is undoubtedly a huge gap between the rhetoric and the reality. Political elites, who are controlled by the needs of economic elites and multinational corporations continually, manufacture consent and engineer ‘political consensus’ amongst the people. The power of the media is utilised, to prioritise the dominant views and values of the state. Certain words, phrases and ‘common sense’ ideas are constantly repeated until they become mainstreamed in the culture of a society, while also shaping the terms of reference for every ‘debate’ in order to marginalise certain viewpoints and philosophies. This is how oppositional politics and alternative analyses are disempowered.

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All these traits can be seen in the new dispensation in the North, where we are repeatedly told how we have escaped the dark cloud of history and moved into a new era of prosperity, where ‘good relations’, ‘a shared future’ and ‘reconciliation’ are benefiting us all. In this restrictive framework, anyone who doesn’t recognise the ‘significant progress’ of the peace process are dismissed as negative, outdated ‘dissidents’. A stable sectarian statelet has thus developed in the North that relies on a middle-class cross-sectarian alliance of political entrepreneurs, civil servants, politicians and a bureaucratic elite. The reality of widespread inequality is hidden within the rhetoric

of the new dispensation. In this intimidating context, progressive and oppositional activists are left with a choice to remain silent are effectively become apolitical.

The various aspects of ‘consent management’ were clearly visible in the visit of the Queen to the six counties last week. We were bombarded into believing that the latest visit of the imperial symbol of exploitation to the Statelet as his official head was a sign of ‘progress’ and ‘reconciliation’. However,

fooling ‘all of the people, all of the time’ isn’t so easy. It was written in this column last week that there was a need for republicans, socialists and progressives of every hue to stand opposed to the normalising mission of this visit. I was therefore delighted when a small group of republican activists from Ballymurphy and Springhill came together in a creative display of anti-monarchist protest. Developed as a community project with young people and local artists at the core of the work, they spent a couple of days preparing huge pieces of cloth

in order that they could erect the slogan ‘Ériú is our Queen’ in large block capitals, as well as the Irish tricolour, on Black Mountain. They succeeded in expressing a powerful message that was visible throughout the city. A permanent linkage was made with our history, our ancient folklore, our land and our culture. It was clear that a mature, anti-sectarian politics and strong independence of mind was alive and well in our community despite the best efforts of the ideological campaign of the new dispensation.

This inspired a predictable fascism amongst the leaders of modern unionism. Nigel Dodds from the DUP pleaded

with the Statelet’s Police Force to use coercion to remove the slogan just as Paisley had with Divis Street in 1964. Inciteful language was used and young loyalists promptly took action, resulting in a local man being hospitalised due to a murderous attack from a loyalist gang who also attacked the artwork of the peaceful protest. Nobody has yet been arrested even though the attack and a photograph of the attackers was publicised on the internet. These young loyalists did the State’s dirty work in attempting to suppress ‘free speech’ and the ideology of republicanism. In this sense, they acted on behalf of the new dispensation and it is little wonder that the state thereby protected them. It is therefore, uplifting, then, that the republican activists had the courage to resume their protest on the Black Mountain again the following day in their struggle of behalf of ‘Ériú’

Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh

An bhfuil spás ann do thuairimí difriúla sa dispeansáid úr?

‘Freedom is always, and exclusively, the freedom to think differently’- Rosa Luxemburg

B’iomaí alt ar an nuachtán seo inar thagair mé do theorainneacha praiticiúla agus polaitiúla na dispeansáide úire. Bíodh is go mbíonn bréagthuairim fhorleathan ann go bhfágann an daonlathas liobrálach ‘saoirse cainte’ ag an phobal, is cinnte go bhfuil bearna suntasach idir an reitric agus an readúlacht. Bíonn uasalaicmí polaitiúla, a bhíonn faoi smacht ag uasalaicmí eacnamaíochta agus corparáidí ilnáisiúnta, ag dearbhú comhthiol agus comhdhearcadh na coitiantachta i measc an phobail. Úsáidfear cumhacht na meán chumarsáide, mar sin, chun príorachtú a dhéanamh ar thuairimí agus luachanna ceannasacha an stáit. Déantar athrá gan staonadh ar focail, frásaí agus smaointe ‘coitianta’ áirithe a dhaingneofar i gcultúir an tsochaí agus a mhúnlaíonn na téarmaí tagartha do gach ‘díospóireacht’ chun imeallú a dhéanamh ar argóintí agus fealsúnachtaí éagsúla. Is ar an bhonn seo a dhéantar díchumhachtú ar pholaitíocht fhreasúrach agus roghanna difriúla.

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Feictear na claontaí seo go soiléir sa dispeansáid úr ó thuaidh, áit a deirtear linn gur éalaigh muid ó scamall dorcha na staire agus gur bhog muid i dtreo rathúnas nua-ré, ina bhfuil ‘dea-chaidrimh’, ‘sochaí roinnte’ agus ‘athmhuintearas’ ag déanamh maitheasa do chách. Sa chreatlach teann seo, is ‘easaontóirí’ diúltacha, seanaoiseacha duine ar bith nach n-aithníonn go bhfuil ‘dul chun cinn suntasach’ déanta faoi réimeas an phróisis shíochána. Forbraíodh stáitín seasmhach seicteach ó thuaidh ina bhfuil comhghuaillíocht thrás-sheicteach idir fiontraithe polaitiúla meán-aicmeacha agus ionadaithe an stáit sna scothaicmí maorlathacha. Cuirtear firící an éagothromais i bhfolach le reitric na dispeansáide úire. Sa chomhthéacs imeaglach seo, bíonn brú ar gníomhairí forásacha cinneadh a dhéanamh ach oiread

bheith ina dtost nó caitheamh aimsire neamhpholaitiúil a aimsiú!

Bhí na míreanna éagsúla den ‘bhainistiú comhthola’ le sonrú i gcuairt na banríona ó thuaidh an tseachtain seo caite. Cuireadh iallach orainn creidbheáil gur chomhartha ‘dul chun cinn’ agus ‘athmhuintearas’ a bhí ann go raibh siombail dúshaothraithe na himpireachta ag pilleadh orainn mar ardcheannasaí an stáitín. Mar sin féin, níl sé chomh furasta sin dallamullóg a chuir ar an phobal i rith an ama. Scríobhadh sa cholún seo seachtain ó shin go raibh géarghá go seasfadh poblachtánaigh, sóisialaithe agus daoine forásacha d’achan chineál i gcoinne sprioc normálaithe na cuairte seo. Bhí lúchair orm mar sin, nuair a tháinig baicle bheag de dhíograiseoirí poblachtánacha ó Bhaile Uí Mhurchú agus Cnoc na Foinse le chéile chun agóidíocht chruthaíoch frithmhonarchachta a chraobhscaoileadh go forleathan. Bunaithe mar thogra pobail le daoine óga agus ealaíontóirí áitiúla i gcroílár na hoibre, chaith siad cupla lá ag ullmhú píosaí móra eadach le go dtiocfadh leo ‘Ériú is our Queen’, i mbloclitreacha móra, in éineacht leis an trídhathach a chrochadh ar an Slaibh Dubh. D’éirigh leo teachtaireacht chumhachtach a chur i bhfriotal a bhí sofheicthe ar fud na cathrach. Rinneadh nasc buan leis an stair, an béaloideas ársa, an talamh agus an cultúr. Léiríodh go sonrach go bhfuil polaitíocht aibí neamhsheicteach agus neamhspleáchas intinne beo beathach sa phobal beag beann ar fheachtas idé-eolaíochta na dispeansáide úire.

Spreag seo faisisteachas iondúil san aontachtachas chomhaimseartha. Impíodh ar phéasfhórsa an stáitín an lámh láidir a úsáid chun an scríbhneoireacht a bhaint, díreach mar a rinne Paisley le Sráid Dubhais in 1964. Úsáideadh teanga ghríosaitheach agus chinn dílseoirí óga dul i mbun gnímh, rud a d’fhág fear bocht san otharlann de dheasca ionsaí dúnmharfach agus baicle dílseoirí ag ionsaí na hagóide síochánta ealaíona. Níor gabhadh éinne go fóill ainneoin gur phoibligh siad an t-ionsaí agus griangraf den lucht ionsaithe ar an idirlíon. Rinne na dílseoirí óga seo jab suarach an stáit agus iad ag iarraidh ‘saoirse cainte’ agus idé-eolaíocht an phoblachtánachais a chur faoi chois. Sa chaoi seo, d’fheidhmigh siad ar son chumhacht na dispeansáide úire agus ní nach ionadh gur thug an stát cosaint daofa. Nach iontach, mar sin, go raibh uchtach ag na díograiseoirí poblachtánacha dul i mbun agóidíochta ar an Sliabh Dubh arís an lá dar gceann agus iad ag streachailt son ‘Ériú’.

Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh

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