July 2011        

Opinion

Building solidarity through Irish

I blame Thatcher and McCreevy. There is a lack of public coherence and solidarity in the face of the present economic crisis. It is their fault. The policies and propaganda of individualisation have created a social context whereby pension levies and cuts in ordinary people’s incomes are acceptable, while the gilded pensions and salaries of those at the top in the establishment, in banking and in finance are immune from the economic misery wrought by their beneficiaries.
     The individualism foisted on society by Thatcher and later by her ideological bedfellow McCreevy (apologies to those who might wake screaming at night with lewd visions of such a demonic tryst) lie at the root of this. Our national identity has been branded and neutered. “Paddy’s Day” is for tourists, and we are being sold “Arthur’s Day” as a more authentic expression of our Irishness. Intrinsic to our struggle against the international capitalists is the building of national solidarity.
     At this point I must apologise to those many progressive Gaeilgeoirí in the CPI who could clearly discern that which I could not. Looking to history, it has finally dawned on me that our national language offers a vehicle that facilitates this. Like so many other things in this country, those with power and money have tried to appropriate our language. In many instances they have succeeded. It has been used by our adversaries as a weapon of conservatism and a badge of class.
     I am myself without Irish, in the past having seen the language as the provenance of elitists and eccentrics (not that there is anything wrong with eccentrics). Having realised the error of my thinking, I am determined to reclaim the language as my own. I will learn it, and I will attempt to be progressive in my learning and moreover to spread radicalism in my efforts. I offer an apology to the world at large for my previous surrender of the language; and to all the elitists who believe it’s theirs—up yours.
     My colleagues in the CPI are right. It’s ours, and we’re taking it back.
     I know there is a depth of expertise and knowledge of Irish language and culture within the Communist Party of Ireland. A hundred-odd years ago those in this country who wished to change their world used the Irish language as an instrument of radicalism. I think we in the CPI should follow their lead and actively engage with the promotion of Irish as a step in our struggle to build the solidarity required to take on international capitalism.
     I am suggesting an active practical engagement with the teaching and learning of the national language. It might even help us in our current struggle regarding the ongoing socialisation of private, banking debt. At the very least it is a kick against the insidious legacy of Thatcher and McCreevy.
[SW]

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