The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Scargill In Ireland

Anthony McIntyre • Fourthwrite Summer 2004

Towards the end of Upton Sinclair’s great novel, The Jungle, the central character, Jurgis, finds himself enthralled by a socialist speaker whose command of oratory and clarity of thought was breathtakingly powerful. He heard a voice ‘with strange intonations that rang through the chambers of the soul like the clanging of a bell.’ Jurgis had led a life of suffocating oppression and economic exploitation. And before the orator in the hall that night he arose to his feet with others, sensing that in socialism lay the solution to his destitute existence.

It is about 15 years since I read that book. It had long since burrowed itself deep into my memory and beyond easy recall. What had kept it there was the incessant barrage of neo-liberalism and Profiteering For Ireland which some call PFI. What nudged it to the forefront of my mind was the voice of Arthur Scargill, booming across Transport House where he delivered the annual May Week lecture. In an era where the concept of socialism has been deliberately contorted in order to make it smell, where it is whispered rather than pronounced, where it has become the property of Trotskyite sects led by self-appointed high priests, Scargill thrust it forward into our faces. It bloomed and the aroma it emitted was sweet. Each of us in the audience, Jurgis-like in our despair at what has passed, yet hopeful that all is not lost, hailed this warrior of the Revolutionary left.

Belfast is a city that once housed James Connolly yet recently swarmed like flies around US President Bill Clinton and filled his ears with laudatory accolades; the same ears that were deaf to the pleas of Palestinian and Rwandan civilians facing imminent death. I hardly imagined that any who turned up to fawn over Clinton were in the audience to listen to Scargill – ideologically they are different sets of people, inhabiting two separate moral universes. But it was uplifting to see the English trade union leader greeted by a packed hall and rewarded with rapturous applause.

In an age where the World Bank and International Monetary Fund bend democratically elected national governments to their will, where capitalist politicians throughout Europe and the United States can point to Belfast and celebrate the victory of counter-insurgency strategies and the logic of rule by capital, the voice of Arthur Scargill calling for a different world, a better life for all, and in language free from ambiguity and fudge, swept Transport House like a cathartic breath of fresh air.










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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


Historians and economists {subsidized by governments} are very good at creating and perpetuating myths that justify increasing the power placed in the hands of government.
- Reuven Brenner

Index: Current Articles

8 July 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

"Fury at Community Newspaper Funding"
Carrie Twomey

Don't Buy A British Lie
Geraldine Adams

Encouraging Debate
Mick Hall

Magpie's Nest
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Scargill in Ireland
Anthony McIntyre

Rev. Ian Harte
Davy Carlin

Family and Community Workers Concerned at False Reporting
Monkstown Community Resource Centre

Food, Trade and US Power Politics in Latin America
Toni Solo

5 July 2004

Can You Hear Ho Chi Minh Laughing?
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia
David Adams

On Whose Side: Stakeknife
Mick Hall

Dogs and Lampposts
Anthony McIntyre

Towards a Republican Agenda for Scotland
Seamus Reader


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