Hands up if you've had enough

The brittle edifice that has so far kept the Irish populace quiescent in the face of destruction will crack; once it does, it will crumble to dust, writes Hugh Green.

I am guessing, since I have not been paying attention, that there has been scant coverage devoted to the massive protests taking place in Greece at present, and in so far as such coverage exists, it is only in indirect terms, or rather, in terms that identify with power: of problems and challenges faced by the government in going up against the Greek population.

There was something of a fad a little while ago for spry discussion of the passivity of the Irish population in the face of overwhelming austerity measures. But that was before the concentrated popular resistance now on display in Spain, Greece and elsewhere, and the process of re-politicization underway in those countries. It hasn’t happened yet in Ireland, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But we may never see that sort of complacent gloating again when the spectre of popular resistance looms so close. Not even a political space as sterile as Ireland can be inoculated against what has happened in Tahrir Square, the Puerta del Sol, Syntagma Square, and now, it seems, Taksim Square in Istanbul. The striking ideological uniformity of Ireland’s political media apparatus will not keep this under wraps much longer. Ní féidir leo.

There will come a point when substantial numbers of people, jarred by the effects of disciplinary austerity, will begin to ask themselves more basic questions than the likely permutations of interest rate cuts and corporate taxation policies or whether Our Lobbyist In Brussels of the bogus civil society campaigns carries the right amount of gravitas to plant shrubbery alongside visiting dignitaries.

Questions like “What the fuck am I doing?” and “Who the fuck are these people deciding my life for me?” There will be a moment when the wheedling speechifying in favour of destructive measures ‘for the good of the country’ will be recognised for what it is: a mask for ‘dictatorial leadership’.

What starts off as a slow drip will end up as a river bursting its banks. I am convinced of this. Precisely how it will happen – what will be the inciting event and what form the public reaction will take - I don’t know.

People are planning mass protests for 19 June against the Euro Pact. In Ireland, hardly anyone knows what the Euro Pact, or the Euro-Plus Pact is. Lots of people may have only the vaguest notion of political leaders getting together to sort things out. If this is indeed a true reflection of people’s perception, it is precisely how political leaders and ruling elites want it. There will be protests in Ireland too, most likely. Maybe they will capture public imagination, maybe not. But these, and other demonstrations and campaigns, will keep chipping away at the brittle edifice that keeps people contained in passivity and disorientation. And once it cracks, it will crumble to bits.

Image top: Poulopoulos Ioannis.