The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
I Dreamt I Saw Joe H Last Night
venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the leaden soul of every state - Arundhati Roy
Anthony McIntyre • 2.10.03

Paul O'Connor, writing in Sinn Fein’s RM mail distribution service, has highlighted the imbalance in the state attitude to those disobeying the law, pointing out that Liam Lawlor has spent time in Mountjoy but, tellingly, not for corrupting the planning system. And those at present planning corrupting the economic wellbeing of the already ailing poorer sections of society through the bin tax have secured the jailing of Joe Higgins and Clare Daly. Both socialist political prisoners may gain solace from Henry David Thoreau who felt that 'under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.' While this may have been a case of rallying morale, making a virtue of necessity, Thoreau himself did serve time for refusing to pay his poll tax in 1846. The rich were at it then too, pursuing strategies of displacement which would ensure that the worst effects incurred in the course of financing the public purse would be passed onto the poorer sections of society. A case of the slaves being forced to pay for their own chains. Even 79 year olds are being dragged before the Dublin courts. Pensioner Joseph O'Brien claimed it was a fate that should never have befallen him, as he had not obstructed any refuse collection.

Debra McCorkle writing in Alternet on the recent jailing of Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong fame offered the following overview:

For the mere price of nine months in jail, he can spend the rest of his life as a hero for libertarian ideals. He doesn't have to kiss John Ashcroft's ass. He doesn't have to be a liar and a hypocrite. Like those who went to jail and endured the blacklist during the McCarthy Era, Chong can maintain his integrity in these increasingly right-wing Big Brother times. He can use this imprisonment to publicize the punishment inflicted by our government for a non-violent crime which has harmed no one.

All very honourable and principled and more dignified than taking the white feather. It is hardly surprising that few, if any, are coming forward to assert that both socialist prisoners of the Irish capitalist state have lost any of their integrity through being imprisoned or have had their radical edge blunted. But the problem here is that Joe Higgins and Clare Daly, unlike Tommy Chong, have harmed someone or something. It is not that they are depriving the state of a massive amount of income. It is because they are Marxists who belong to the Socialist Party which seeks to mount an anti-systemic challenge to the existing order. Some measure of this can be gleaned from Vincent Browne who, in yesterday's Irish Times, brilliantly exposed government hypocrisy on the matter. Trawling back though what the government hoped everyone else had forgotten he flagged up the type of activity the present government minister Tom Parlon was involved in a matter of years ago while heading the Irish Farmers' Association:

On January 1st, 2000, the Department of Agriculture and Food imposed additional meat inspection fees on meat companies, to recover the full cost of meat inspections. The meat factories sought to pass on this additional cost to farmers. The IFA picketed meat factories in protest. The effect of the picketing was the closure of meat factories around the country and the lay-off of some 3,000 workers. An order was made by Mr Justice Diarmuid O'Donovan in the High Court requiring the picketing to stop. The IFA announced they would defy the court order and did so. The IFA leader, Mr Tom Parlon, said there would be "total resistance" from the farming community if any farmer was imprisoned for defying the court order. Hundreds of farmers took part in pickets at 30 meat plants, in defiance of that order. No arrests were made. Mr Parlon further announced that no meat product would be "allowed" to enter or leave the factories until the matter in dispute was settled.

Tom Parlon, since then has become a Progressive Democrat parliamentarian. Clearly he posed no challenge to the prevailing economic orthodoxy and was quite happy to fight his battles for a bigger slice of the cake within it. Consequently the government is today equally happy to have him as one of its ministers. He does its bidding and will remain on the right side of Mountjoy's walls. In November last year the Socialist Party in a press statement claimed that 'Parlon's plan for wholesale privatisation of public assets reflected a right-wing ideological obsession.'

Because this obsession is resisted those elected representatives at the forefront of such resistance are jailed, prompting a comment from Tony Gregory in relation to Joe Higgins that 'it is a disgrace that anyone of his commitment and ability, is not released, if only for Dáil sitting times so he can carry out the work he has been elected to do.' The most vulnerable sections of the Dublin population on top of being subject to a financial squeeze by the state are now deprived of proper elected representation. In this context the bin tax and the jailings are two prongs of the same state strategy of displacement. In an economic and social milieu where the hegemonic political strategy ensures that wealth is redistributed in the most inequitable fashion, are Joe Higgins and Clare Daly guilty of anything other than seeking to ensure a more egalitarian redistribution by means not approved by the government?

The behaviour of the Dublin Government in persecuting Joe Higgins and Clare Daly confirm what Kelly Candaele and Peter DreierIt, writing in an American newpaper last December, observed - it 'almost calls for resurrecting the phrase "ruling class," a notion once popular in left-wing circles that claims that the primary function of the highest levels of government is to protect the interests of the very rich.'




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

3 October 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


The Rite of Passage
Anthony McIntyre


32 CSM Condemn Abduction of its members
Andy Martin


Irish Republicanism As I See It
Thomas Gore


A Question of Class
Davy Carlin


It All Leads Back to This
Mick Hall


I Dreamt I Saw Joe H Last Night
Anthony McIntyre


Tail Biting Prohibited
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain


28 September 2003


Edward Said, 1935-2003
Liam O Ruairc


Civil Rights Anniversary
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh


Nothing But Contempt for the Court of the Rich
Anthony McIntyre


Ireland and Post Colonial Theory
Liam O Ruairc


2 Statements on the death of Edward Said


The Letters Page has been updated.




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