'WHAT is the alternative to politics?" Pat Rabbitte has asked, in his denunciation of the media: "Hand over the running of the country, and the economy, to some kind of dictatorship?"
To which the answer should be: what do you have in mind, Pat?
Unprompted, the answer was don't know (22 per cent) or, more explicitly, none of the above (22 per cent).
Now in his 64th year, Rabbitte's remark, more than anything, has betrayed his complete turnaround from radical student to trade union official to Workers Party TD, and now, to full-blown bourgeois minister of the Labour Party.
Today, he would shudder at mention of the word 'revolution'.
For Rabbitte, not only is the revolution over, so too is the spirit of the revolution: he has found the system as it has evolved to be conducive to his taste. He awaits his pension.
In that, he is not alone.
After five years of austerity, the question raised most often is why the blood is not up now as it was before, at the time of, say, the PAYE marches in the Eighties.
Why is it that, as Lenin might say, the internal struggle has not reached boiling point?
I would argue that it has, or soon will; but that this time the revolution will not be found on the streets, the stomping ground of the trade union movement, which protects only a fragment of a fragmented society, the public-sector class.
If it is a revolution you are after, look for where it is to be found, or from where it might emerge, not on the streets, but online, the phenomenon that has changed everything and which, clearly, so scares the ruling class.
Which is why all citizens should resist this assault by the Government on the media, the so-called traditional and the online, which must travel hand-in-hand.
In any event, 22 years after the end of the Cold War, the defeat of communism as represented by the murder of 100 million people; five years after the humiliation of capitalism, as represented by -- indulge me -- €100 trillion of debt heaped on citizens worldwide, what are we left with?
In Ireland, we are left with a society, a class system, no longer lower, middle and upper, but fragmented as never before. Where do you fit in? Add your own:
* A social welfare class, through the generations, many of whom have chosen, others of whom are trapped in, a lifestyle protected by Labour, to a self-defeating end;
* A social welfare class, on the ragged edge, who do not choose but must depend on welfare and charity, the target of a Government determined to force them into a reduced workplace so changed that the system itself seems incapable of catching up;
* An emigrated class, many embittered, perhaps never to return;
* An aspiring working and lower middle class, persuaded to own property, below water, clinging on by their fingertips, which the Government has targeted without mercy;
* A propertied, but struggling lower paid public-sector class, relieved that their jobs and pensions, and therefore their homes, are secure, or relatively secure, protected by Labour;
* An indebted young middle class, with a job at the moment, without a pension, wedded to property they have come to hate and are prepared to relinquish for all time;
* An aged, comfortable middle class, who sail blithely on, but at death will leave their property to their grandchildren;
* A comfortable public-sector class, the fat-cats, the most cosseted of all -- the new bourgeoisie -- protected by Labour of which they are a part;
* The original fat-cats, the wealthy class, as represented by the bankers and their friends, which has convinced the world, with some reality, that nothing in this system would or should exist without them, to the point that the Government allows them draft legislation to meet their own ends.
Governing all of this is an aged band of former revolutionaries, transmogrified into what has become a beleaguered bourgeoisie, alongside the fatted farmers, lawyers and teachers of Fine Gael, who have promised "reform" to a point that the word itself has now become debased.
Neither is "some kind of dictatorship" the answer, as Pat Rabbitte so defensively, not to mention misleadingly, put it; it has been tried before, too, and has failed as it would again.
If not dictatorship, then just what is it that has so scared the Minister for Communications? Anarchy, perhaps, which has never taken hold, because, as a Marxist theoretician once said, it is the enfant terrible of the bourgeoisie -- the ruling class -- which would also be blown to dust.
There is no 'man on horseback' either, no Napoleon Bonaparte, at this psychological moment to consolidate the mood that has so shifted.
Which brings us back to the question: why has the internal struggle not reached boiling point?
Perhaps it is that nobody knows, and everybody is scared of, what may come next; that we are all content to leave things be, with a tweak or two, and sweep out thoroughly whatever rubbish is left behind.
But still, this poll shows that the people seek out an alternative, which may invigorate, but here is a reality which will depress: what if there is no alternative?
More immediately, what is coming next is a new tax on property, which, as the poll indicates, will push the button of the most obvious classes affected: the value of their asset is eroded to the point that it sounds again like a bitter mockery.
Simultaneously, this crusade against the principle of liberty and law is pushing another button: great grandmothers are assaulted in their homes, paramilitaries prowl the streets in broad daylight.
Let us take the middle class as a whole: they will rebel, though they will not lead a revolution. The rejection of Fianna Fail was a temporary little rebellion. But boiling point cannot be far off.
Or maybe Pat Rabbitte is right; maybe the revolution and the spirit of the revolution is over.
The bourgeoisie has bought off socialism, socialism has allowed
itself be sold, and, in guilt, has started to devour the bedfellows. We should not be surprised; betrayal is also human nature.
Labour's broken election promises will, in time, come to represent the most abject betrayal of all in this cycle, best encapsulated in the bittersweet refrain: 'Labour's Way or Frankfurt's Way'.
The French writer and philosopher, Emile Zola, once pleaded: "Who will give us a new ideal?" The Third Way, as contrived by Blair and Clinton, in the round, has also failed, being, as it is, neither fish nor fowl.
History will record it was holed from the outset by the politics of "spin", which promised those other words in a debased political lexicon: "openness" and "transparency", but which, in fact, turned out to be the polar opposite, which gave us war on the basis of a dodgy dossier.
Therein may lie the answer to Pat Rabbitte's conundrum: a new ideal will not be formed, or rescued, by spin, but rather by a commitment to the truth, to only take root and spring forth when something more than mere lip service is paid, cynically, to its noble twin, which is, the freedom of speech.