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(en) Ireland, Working Class Resistance #10 - The G8: Protesting the Protest

Date Wed, 14 Dec 2005 08:20:30 +0200

One of the problems that charities have experienced in the last twenty
years or so has been what is referred to as 'compassion fatigue'.
Images of the pot-bellied, malnourished kids of sub-Saharan Africa, it
was found, did not play well in communities where male
unemployment often ran at 80%, single mothers fed their wains a diet
of fish fingers and cornflakes, and pensioners froze to death in the
winter trying to shave a few extra pounds off their heating bills.
Diseases such as TB and even rickets reappeared and hospitals began
to admit people from working class communities diagnosed as
suffering from malnutrition. As the working class traditionally
contributed more to 'famine relief' at the behest of wealthy
charities and wealthier pop stars than the middle and upper classes put
together, the charities sat up and took notice. They began to harp on
about tackling poverty 'at home' as well as abroad, and people
were urged to give generously to provide after-care facilities for the
kids of single parents in inner city Salford or rehab centres in
Edinburgh and Newcastle. Basically, working class communities were
asked yet again to self-medicate without the fuckin' price of the
medicine and put their hand into their own pockets to come up with
the cash. And those asking them to do so are the self-same people,
celebrities and nonebrities alike who asked us all to the G8 summit in
Scotland. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, many people have told them
to go fuck themselves.
Like 'compassion fatigue' many of us are now suffering from
'demo fatigue', especially in relation to the anti-globalisation
'protests' where anarchists generally get the 'rioter'
bit part thrown in. For a while it was nice to turn up just to piss off the
liberals and challenge the stereotype of what an anarchist is but it has
long since ceased to be anything more than a distraction (and a
theatrical wan at that) from real struggles.
If charity begins at home then so does the class war against capitalism
and its adherents. Those who joined the smugfest jamboree to
'make poverty history' this summer by standing at a security
cordon shouting at the cops or singing along with Sting, Bono and
Geldof were only part of one of the most carefully staged and
choreographed non-events of modern times. Whether you followed
the yellow brick road to Edinburgh or Gleneagles, the Wizard of
Geldof will still fuck you over in the end, and declare hand-in-hand
with Bush, Blair and co. (I'll leave it up to the reader to decide
who's missing the brain, heart and courage bits), that in the end
we should just leave it all up to the baby Jesus and the World Bank.
The Longbridge Rover workers weren't at Gleneagles, neither
were the Arntz Belting Company workers up here in the north-west
who've lost their jobs, nor the hundreds of textile workers,
shipyard employees, engineering operatives, farming workers and
fishermen whose jobs have gone down the toilet here in the last 20
years. The threatened cuts in health and education, rising rates bills,
the looming water tax, the growth in casualisation, out-sourcing,
privatisation and the gentrification of our towns and cities will not be
tackled by standing in a field outside Auchterarder with a placard in
one hand and a sleeping bag in the other. It might seem obvious but
it's worth saying nonetheless.
Only a struggle to 'make capitalism history' at the coalface
will succeed, and it is to local workplaces and communities that we
should look to unravel the bonds of poverty and oppression on a
day-to-day basis. That struggle is not without reverberations, because
those of us who fight against the water tax here, for example, are
fighting against the same agenda and interest groups who've
imposed it elsewhere in the world. Given the nature of global
capitalism the struggle against job cuts in Strabane or Cork or Belfast
also means opposition to shit wages and the general exploitation of
third world workers who usually 'benefit' from those job cuts
here. If the slogan 'global is local' is to mean anything then
hopefully some of those who went to Scotland in July will think,
'if that's the case, what the fuck was I doing in

Mairtin O'Cathain

From the Pages of Working Class Resistance, magazine of


Organise Ireland <organiseireland@yahoo.ie>
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