Ireland: Another working-class "No"
ireland / britain |
imperialism / war |
opinion / analysis
Monday July 14, 2008 19:44 by Mathias - Alternative Libertaire
Article from Alternative Libertaire, French anarchist communist magazine
On 12th June, the Irish sent the media and the boss class into despair when 54% of Irish voters said "No" to the Lisbon Treaty, a re-working of the European Constitution. Libertarian communists mobilized in order to tinge this rejection with a social and anti-capitalist hue. [
Ireland: Another working-class "No"
On 12th June, the Irish sent the media and the boss class into despair when 54% of Irish voters said "No" to the Lisbon Treaty, a re-working of the European Constitution. Libertarian communists mobilized in order to tinge this rejection with a social and anti-capitalist hue.
In 2005, the "No" in the French referendum on the European constitutional treaty had clearly been a social "No", with supporters of French sovereignty unable to make their voice heard above the clamour of the anti-liberalist and anti-capitalist campaign. In the case of Ireland in 2008, the various types of opposition to the Lisbon Treaty makes analysis a little more complex.
One thing, however, is sure - this referendum marks the divorce between "civil society" and the political elite. The "Yes" camp was filled - as in France three years ago - with the main government parties: Fianna Fáil (centre-right party currently in power), Fine Gael (another centre-right party) and the social democrats of Labour.
Supporters of the "No" vote could be divided into three main areas. The first two are familiar: on the one hand the supporters of Irish sovereignty, nationalists and Catholics, hostile to the European Union for reasons of identity (1); on the other hand, the anti-liberalist left and the far left, in defence of class interests. The third area is more typically British - the Atlantists, who seek to maintain the privileged alliance with the United States rather than with the European Union. This current was mainly led by businessmen and reminds us in passing that there sometimes exist strategic contradictions within the European boss class, with regard to the commercial interests at stake. While French, German and Italian capitalists may have thrown their weight behind the EU, others (for example in Eastern Europe and the Anglo-Saxon countries) may have other preferences.
The wealthy neighbourhoods vote "yes"
The libertarian communists of the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) did not use this opportunity of a complex situation merely to sit back and commentate from afar. They involved themselves in the fight against the Lisbon Treaty while at the same time denouncing the doubtful motives of certain elements of the "No" camp, such as Libertas, a lobby founded by industrialists linked to the American armed forces.
The WSM also distributed over 50,000 pamphlets and 2,000 stickers to publicize the libertarian communist alternative to the Europe of capital. Unlike the situation in France where Alternative Libertaire alone mobilized against the Constitutional Treaty, the 2008 "No" campaign saw the entire libertarian movement in Ireland in action.
The sociology of the vote can, however, throw some light on the reason for the success of the "No" vote, which enjoyed large majorities in rural and working-class areas, whereas the trendy neighbourhoods of South Dublin voted in favour by 60%! The middle classes, on whom those in power were counting, mostly decided not to vote at all, accentuating even more the class gap between those in favour of Lisbon and those against.
The victory of the "No" vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty can therefore be seen as a victory for the Irish and European social movements which, once again, have raised a barrier to the construction of a liberalist Europe. It also reflects a certain disenchantment on the part of the working classes with the political and economic regime, represented by the parties promoting a "Yes".
Matthias (AL Orléans)
Translation by FdCA-International Relations Office
(1) The Catholic Church warned of the danger that accepting the Lisbon Treaty would lead to the legaliztion of abortion.