Slave story shows that being left-wing means never having to say you're sorry
Published 29/11/2013 | 22:10
It turns out that the Irish woman held as a 'slave' in a house in London for the last 30 years was in reality a de facto prisoner of a decrepit, cult-like communist collective dating back to the 1970s -- a Maoist collective to be exact.
In Ireland at least, this twist on the story hasn't received anything like the attention it deserves. Had it turned out that the woman was a victim of a religious cult the airwaves would have been filled with warnings about the manifold and manifest dangers of all religion. Twitter would have gone into meltdown.
But the fact that she was a victim of far-left politics is mostly being treated as a fairly trivial side-detail.
The news that she, and two other women, were de facto captives of a Maoist collective catapults us back to an era when far-left politics -- radical chic -- was all the rage, especially in the universities.
It brings us back to when some of our present rulers, such as Ruairi Quinn and Eamon Gilmore, were young and being schooled in far-left politics and who now seem to intellectually dominate Enda Kenny who has never had any discernible ideology. I respect Quinn and Gilmore more for actually believing in something.
At this stage it has probably become necessary to explain what Maoism is because many people under a certain age will never have heard of it. The name comes from Mao Zedong, who led the communists to power in China in 1949 and who ruled until his death in 1976.
Millions of Chinese people died under Mao. When he was being feted by student radicals in the West, the Cultural Revolution was in full swing in China. The Cultural Revolution was essentially a terroristic attack on anyone who disagreed, or seemed to disagree, with any aspect of Maoism.
Writing in 'The Guardian' the other day, former student radical, Tariq Ali, spelled out just how influential Maoism was in various parts of Western Europe. German Maoism, for example, could claim 10,000 members, he said.
Scandinavia, he wrote, "was awash with Maoism in the 1970s". So much so that when Mao died in 1976, 100,000 Norwegians turned up outside the Chinese embassy in Oslo to mourn. Incredible.
What about Ireland? Ali doesn't mention Ireland, but The Lost Revolution, a history of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party does. We had our Maoists and they were particularly strong in Trinity College Dublin.
The archive of this newspaper contains a report from 2002 based on an interview Ruairi Quinn gave to Marian Finucane on RTE.
Quinn, in a jolly old way, recounted how, when he was running Mary Robinson's presidential election campaign 12 years before, she had the active support of a cadre of former Maoists from TCD unbeknownst to her.
Quinn told Finucane that a group came forward to work for Robinson's campaign who were now "very well-placed and highly successful business executives", but "who, in a previous life, had been very radical Maoists".
He said: "They have not maintained the same level of commitment, but the value system is still there. They had not lost it and they still have not lost it."
He wouldn't name names but said that some of them would be "well known to the general public".
Now, try to imagine the reaction if Quinn had revealed that a group of people who were once far-right student radicals, neo-Nazis say, had worked on the campaign of a given politician. Such a revelation would have damaged that politician badly, possibly beyond repair.
Mary Robinson did not know that she had those former Maoists working for her, but in the case of a politician who had former neo-Nazis working for him, or erstwhile followers of French ultra-nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen for that matter, it would be no excuse for him to say he did not know about their backgrounds.
It would be enough that this sort of person was attracted to him.
It is a curious thing that a far-left past has never damaged an Irish politician but a far-right past would be political death.
This is a triumph of left-wing propaganda. The fact that millions of people died in the name of the leftist ideologies that some of our most prominent politicians once followed is simply airbrushed from the picture. Truly, being left-wing means never having to say you're sorry.
This skews our politics badly. It makes it hard for an Irish politician to express admiration even for a Ronald Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher but gives a free pass to those who expressed admiration for some of the worst and bloodiest ideologies in all of human history and who actively worked to inflict those same ideologies on the Irish people.
It means that those on the left are never held accountable for once holding the most atrocious views. This is why Ruairi Quinn was able to joke about those former Maoists who helped the Mary Robinson campaign back in 1990.
That Maoist collective in London is a reminder of just how extreme and dehumanising left-wing politics could be and can be.
What it did to those three women was in micro what Chairman Mao inflicted on the whole of China for decades and which it is still doing in North Korea today.
This is what sections of the Irish left supported and they have never been held to account for it. Instead we romanticise them for it and this is very wrong.