Friday 15 February 2019

Jobstown verdict is correct - but beware the backlash

It's time the voting public and the media woke up to the real agenda of the revolutionary Solidarity-PBP, writes Ed Brophy

Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by Paul Murphy (centre) – and including (from left) Frank Donaghy, Michael Banks, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon and Scott Masterson – leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by Paul Murphy (centre) – and including (from left) Frank Donaghy, Michael Banks, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon and Scott Masterson – leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts

Ed Brophy

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat" - Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

In the past few years, and particularly since Paul Murphy won the Dublin South West by-election back in 2014, our political system and media have struggled to get their heads around the role and agenda of the Trotskyite left. RTE in particular seems to operate under the illusion that the representatives of what is now called 'Solidarity-PBP' are no different to those of any other political party, affording them disproportionate airtime to outline their utopian vision.

Some of this soft-headedness has been due to canny political positioning by Solidarity - placing itself on the side of what a certain whimsical section of the electorate sees as the better angels of our nature on causes from Apollo House through repeal of the Eighth to Apple's taxes.

So let's kill this particular delusion straight away. Solidarity and its acolytes are revolutionary socialists with deep historical roots who seek to destroy capitalism and replace it with a workers' utopia. And they don't really conceal their purpose once you peel back the superficial branding. As Solidarity TD Gino Kenny said after the last election, class warfare is their chosen means for advancing their struggle and the street rather than parliament their preferred forum for its ultimate resolution.

In practice, this means that the entire political system and media is but a conspiracy to advance the interests of capital and the bourgeoisie. You could say that the enemy has been very clear that it knows us, but the political mainstream has been complacent about its enemy.

Solidarity reserves a particular disdain for those they see as 'reformists' - social democrats like Joan Burton who seek to ameliorate capitalism instead of overthrowing it by revolutionary means. Those who have historically sought to compromise with capitalism have always been accused of selling the working-classes down the river. In understanding the political convulsions of recent years, this point is particularly crucial - irrespective of what the Labour Party did in government, for Solidarity the mere act of entering coalition itself amounted to treachery.

For the faithful, these are sacred truths, handed down by revolutionary martyrs like Rosa Luxemburg who said coalition, by binding the working-class hand and foot to the government, prevented the workers from showing their real power.

So the Labour Party has never been under any illusions about the nature of its enemy. However, until the Jobstown trial, the rest of the political system and media have been sleepwalking. They have in truth had no idea what they are dealing with and in the process have made some appalling political miscalculations, chief among them Micheal Martin's fateful decision to legitimise the water revolt. In regressing to its populist stance, Fianna Fail became what Lenin called the "useful idiots" who unwittingly bolstered the revolutionary cause and in the process made Paul Murphy the pivotal figure in our politics.

The mainstream media has also been duped. By positing that each problem we face as a society to be a "crisis" they have inadvertently co-opted and validated the Trotskyite rhetoric of the permanent crisis and revolution.

That is why it was so crucial for our democracy that Paul Murphy and his co-accused walked free last Thursday. In one fell swoop, the Solidarity thesis that the entire system is a conspiracy against them and the working-class they purport to represent was put to the sword. In the weeks running up to the trial and throughout, the constant drumbeat from Solidarity representatives and their acolytes across social media was that the entire process was a stitch-up - the charges were a conspiracy by the political establishment, the jury was rigged and the mainstream media was hopelessly compromised.

The conspiracy thesis was also behind the outrageous social media campaign directed against the judicial process - and Joan Burton - by Solidarity's publicly funded media operation, which their press officer Dave Murphy, quoted by Colm Keena in Friday's The Irish Times, acknowledged was, "Obviously... against the law", but justified because of the "political nature" of the trial.

Now that Solidarity's conspiracy theories have been so comprehensively debunked and the independence of the judicial branch of government robustly affirmed, it is time for the majority of our political system that does not seek a permanent revolution to reassert itself. In particular, it is just not good enough for Fianna Fail to give any further succour to Solidarity. As our society and economy recovers from the deep wounds of the last decade and austerity fades away, it is unacceptable that we should again be held to ransom by a political cult that even Marx himself - in embracing the reformist path late in life - dismissed as being on the wrong side of history.

The crucible for the next confrontation with the forces of darkness is already in sight. How the political system deals with the forthcoming reform of bin charges will be a crucial test and already the portents are not good.

By playing politics with the Government's plans, the mainstream opposition parties are in danger of once again of giving Solidarity its opening. Meanwhile a certain insouciance on Fine Gael's side may underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead.

Already the Trotskyite forces are gearing up for one more heave. "What the Parliament does, the street can undo," says their Cork TD Mick Barry. For the sake of our democracy, parliament must prevail.

Ed Brophy is a partner with Accreate Executive Search and chairman of Ireland Thinks. He was Chief of Staff to Tanaiste Joan Burton in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition

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