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(en) Workers Solidarity No 73 - Thinking about anarchism Corruption in politics

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 5 Dec 2002 15:16:01 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

One of the issues raised by the recently published Flood
report is the level of influence the wealthy have in a
representative democracy. The word 'democracy' is now
such a holy word that any organization which can
convince people of its democratic credentials is
perceived as legitimate.

Just about every state in the world claims to be a democracy
irrespective of actual fact; cast your mind back to the old
German Democratic Republic. So it is with the Irish State.
Its democratic credentials stem from its five yearly elections
for parliament. However, there's nary a hint of democracy in
the workplace, in the community, or in the security
apparatus, to name three of the more glaring omissions.

As anarchists we propose that it would be better to live in a
society organised on a directly democratic basis. Briefly, this
where all decisions are taken by those who are affected by
them (e.g. by the workers of each workplace), and if it is
necessary to delegate then the delegates must follow their
mandate and be replaceable by a vote.

One of the difficulties we have in persuading people of the
advantages of direct democracy, even interesting them in the
issue, is their commitment to the view that the Irish State is
in fact a proper democracy. If we already live in a democratic
society then there's little point in struggling to establish a ..
ehh ... democratic society. Their cup is already full. Thinking
about the Flood Report is one way to knock the cup over.

In it are detailed the corrupt payments that one Ray Burke,
former Fianna Fail minister and sometime planning
consultant, received from assorted Irish businessmen. In
return he used his public offices to further the interest of his
paymasters. This is unsurprising, wealthy capitalists don't
part with large sums of money for nothing.

Where the corruption is harder to detect is in the legal
contributions made to political parties. They're not giving
money for nothing now either, but as specific favours are not
overtly sought it can appear as if the donation is an
unconditional one.

Rather than exchange money for explicit favours which, after
all, is too blatant even for this docile population, business and
politicians have evolved an altogether safer system. Business'
payback comes in the maintenance of a social order which is
favourable to private enterprise. No political party in receipt
of thousands of pounds from Denis O'Brien, Michael Smurfit
et al is going to increase corporation tax to 70%. The beauty
of this system is that it's entirely legal, indeed applauded,
when in fact it amounts to legalised bribery.

The Flood Report will, by itself, change nothing, except,
perhaps, to induce more caution to the thicker element of the
ruling class, but it does provide one useful service:* it makes
it clear that the wealthy have a dominant influence in affairs
of state.

Anarchists claim that this must always be so. A State is a
product of a class society, i.e. one where there is a ruling
class and a working class. A state structure at its core
consists of a hierarchical line of command, encompassing at
a minimum a civil service, police, judiciary, and which seeks
to direct and regulate the behaviour of the rest of society. In
every society where a State exists there is a dominant class
which uses the State apparatus to preserve its privileged
position. The State through its laws legitimises the
exploitation of working people (e.g. restricting strikes,
permitting profiteering) and through its security apparatus
resists attempts to alter it fundamentally (e.g. injuncting
pickets, arresting strikers).

The point anarchists derive is that the more even the
distribution of wealth then the healthier the democracy. It
follows that the abolition of wealth differences is a
requirement for a complete democracy. The rationale is that
while different classes exist - the bosses and workers - these
classes will have divergent interests; the rich to maintain
their wealth and power and the rest who want to get some of
that riches. Without the incentive to maximise profit and
hence put one over on others we can combine to take
decisions in a disinterested and unselfish fashion. The
anarchist goal is to abolish the division of society into classes.
Sharing the wealth of society equally is central to towards
achieving this.

                               James O'Brian

* Apart from keeping the lawyers above the breadline; the
minimum a barrister at the Flood Tribunal earns is 1500 euro
per day.

See also

           Corruption in Irish politics http://struggle.ws/wsm/corruption.html
  A look at the known and unknown corruption scandals of
               politics in Ireland


This page is from the print version of the Irish
Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'  http://struggle.ws/worksol.html .

We also  provide PDF  http://struggle.ws/ws/pdf.html files of
all our publications for you to print out and distribute locally

Print out the PDF file of this issue http://struggle.ws/wsm/pdf/ws/73.html

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