The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Crisis of Political Imagination

Liam O Ruairc • July 23, 2003

In many European countries, the political differences between parties of the Left and parties of the Right have tended to narrow down over the last two decades. There is an implicit consensus that there are no solutions to the current social and economic problems, only good or bad management of those problems.

Similarly, with the Good Friday Agreement, local politicians have recognised that there are no "solutions" to the Irish question, only good or bad management of sectarian tensions and related problems. There is a crisis of political imagination as the very idea of the possibility of a qualitatively different form of social organisation is fundamentally questioned.

More generally, there is a general crisis of confidence in human beings' capacity to change themselves and and change the society they live in. The media and various "experts" are constantly warning us of the "dangers" and "risks" if we try to do anything. From GM food and genetic engineering to questioning the GFA and neoliberalism it is easy to understand the prevailing political paralysis given the existing culture of "fear" and avoidance of "risks".

However, risks and dangers are inherent in any political project worthy of that name. The result is that "culture" and "ethical humanitarianism" have effectively displaced politics. A bogus humanitarian ideology of victimage and of "parity of esteem" for cultural otherness thrusts aside collective political projects of social transformation.

The GFA is about "diversity", and respecting "cultural differences" - it celebrates things such as "Orange culture", as "pluralism" is a good thing in itself. Sectarian marches are tolerable, because after all they are a "cultural thing". Any questioning of this Agreement is dangerous as it potentially leads to Omagh bomb type tragedies.

Apart from the ideology of "parity of esteem" between Orange and Green, it also encourages vanity and self-satisfaction in being a perpetual victim rather than an agency of social transformation. Never since 1998 have there been so many contests in who sings louder "We are more victims than you are", because the more victimised you are the bigger Peace money you are likely to receive.

Within this prevailing ideological mood, Republican Socialism offers the best alternative to the ideology of "equality" and "parity of esteem". From Fintan Lalor to James Connolly and from Liam Mellows to Seamus Costello, it is the current within Republicanism that expressed best the interests of the men and women of no property. It has confidence in the necessity and ability of people organising themselves and changing the society they live in. It is Democratic, it is Republican, it is Socialist. It has the resources to renew political imagination - far more than this current liberal multiculturalism.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



"As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman."
- Adam Michnik

Index: Current Articles

29 July 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Our Places in the Great Wall
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Mr Michael McKevitt's Statement at the Special Criminal Court
Michael McKevitt


Crisis of Political Imagination

Liam O Ruairc


Childhood, - West Belfast, Race and 'Irishness'
Davy Carlin


Island Palestine
Anthony McIntyre


A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1880
M. Shahid Alam


Belfast's Big-headed Bully-boy
Margaret Quinn


20 July 2003


Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Anthony McIntyre


Sinn Fein Support for Prisoners' Demand
Mick Hall



Liam O Ruairc


Revenge of the Bureaucrats
Julie Brown


What It's Like to be Raided
Carrie Twomey


Raid on McIntyre Home




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