From Socialist Voice, June 2011


United we stand

I recall a feeling—I imagine one shared by many here—when I first came to the idea of “the end of history.” A flat feeling. Deflating. The notion that the collapse of the Soviet bloc heralded “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”
     Recently I had the great good fortune to spend a weekend in Prague. While there, sitting outside a balmy coffee shop, I looked up Wenceslas Square towards the national museum. My eyes passed over the Golden Arches of McDonald’s, the shiny exterior of a strip club, and the handsome buildings of the streetscape, and that quotation returned to my mind.
     Again, I imagine, like many others in this country, I watched with a somewhat detached interest as the Velvet Revolution played out in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Wall collapsed. Now, twenty-odd years later, it is we who are at the epicentre of a collapsing order.
     Make no mistake: this crisis engulfing us is real and potentially world-order-changing in its magnitude. The changes on our horizon are at the very least on a par with those that followed the collapse of the USSR. It is no exaggeration to say that capitalism is teetering on the edge. The unfettered “light-touch regulation” that in ideological frenzy has torpedoed our country has also ensured that we will be at the epicentre of the changes poised to sweep through our continent and the wider world.
     The powerful and wealthy are fighting tooth and nail to maintain their status and privilege: one need only observe the gusto with which €3,000-a-week politicians are chasing down €300-a-week workers if one requires evidence of this. The struggle is alive around us. The immediate battlefields are health, education, and welfare.
     We must reclaim our unity, our citizenship, and our society. We must not allow ourselves to be cast as taxpayers, individuals, or consumers, because that facilitates our emasculation by the status quo.
     The old adage is true: “united we stand, divided we fall.” Let us reclaim our citizenship. We are all citizens who strive for a better society. Convince those who doubt it—friends, family, anyone you can—that they are not market-dwelling consumers but parents, children, workers, who live in a society, not a neo-liberal free market.
     Our links with each other are our strength. Let’s cultivate them. United we stand.

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