This article largely follows the perspective of The Burkean’s Culture Editor; Peter Caddle.
Joseph Stalin believed beatings to be the most effective type of torture. It was the punishment he feared most as a child, and his favoured method of torture as an adult. “There is no worse that you can do to a man” is what he said.
But Stalin was wrong. His future comrades who were present at ‘Marxism 2018: Repeal Capitalism’ proved this to me last Saturday. No, the worst thing you can do to a man is not beat him. The worst thing you can do to a man is force him to listen to PBP for an entire day. None of whom like Stalin by the way, they prefer the ‘progressive’ genocidal psychopaths like Lenin and Trotsky.
My torture began at half six in the morning. Our socialist friends decided that the best place to promote the emancipation of minorities and the working class was a south Dublin suburb. I myself am still not too sure of this decision, considering the majority of Dublin’s ‘diversity’ and working class lie north of the liffey, where I happen to hail from. The lengthy journey gave me some time to think.
To be a Marxist long ago could almost be forgiven, but not today. Modernity sent Western society into a flux as the old hierarchies evaporated. They had been flawed, but lent a great deal of continuity to people’s lives. If conservatives wish to turn back the clock to some degree of pre-modernity, then Marxists want to see it through. Marxism at its simplest is a class based understanding of the world, believing that through revolutionary action mankind can transition into a new era of human emancipation.
Sounds rather elegant? However like most enlightenment dreams it faltered and failed in its goal of the reorientation of modernity. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the role of the hard left is to act as a carnivalesque as liberalism tears through society. The Irish left upholds this raison d’être rather well.
For the Irish left, feelings of inadequacy must be overwhelming. Britain has Corbyn, America has Sanders, but in Ireland the radical left remains in the electoral doldrums. Labour is verging on irrelevance in the middle of a post-coalition slump, while the more radical alternative People Before Profit limps on at a miserable 0% in the polls.
The barricades have remained noticeably quiet the past 10 years despite what the left had to say about water charges and other minor issues. In an era of worldwide right wing populism, the global left is jumpy, worrying that their idealised proletariat might discover ideas that actually challenge the status quo. The Irish left is no different, concerned more with fighting an imagined far right and pushing a socially liberal agenda than improving conditions for ordinary people.
What follows is a sampling of the best and brightest that the Irish left have to offer.
The talks themselves were bad enough, with titles such as ‘Is there Anything Sassy About Stalinism’ being representative of the mind-numbing discourse at the event. Amazingly, it got worse. At the end of every talk about half an hour was set aside for an audience of around twenty or so people to ask questions and to ‘give their thoughts’ on the topic. ‘Give their thoughts’ was apparently a euphemism for rambling on for ten minutes about their unique branch of Marxism without getting a single point across.
The topic of the main event of the day was ‘Resisting Racism and the Far Right.’ Considering there is no real far right in this country currently, this panel was pointless from the get go. And no, as it went on, it didn’t get any better.
First, you had Aaron Dixon, a former member of the defunct Black Panther Party, whose main thesis seemed to be ‘Orange Man Bad,’ with a bit of hate directed towards Peter Casey too for good measure.
Then there was Ivanka Antova, an ‘anti-racism advocate’ who works in Belfast and talked about how surprised she was at the level of racism in Northern Ireland. I found her surprise, well, rather surprising – considering how it’s common knowledge that the very nature of the North is sectarian. I suppose because she’s non-native she simply didn’t get the memo before moving.
After that, there was a token black muslim women Naima Omar, who just went on about Racism a bit more. Groundbreaking I know. She also had a penchant for cringeworthy chants, “there are many many more of us than you,” seemingly being her favorite.
The most interesting of the panel was Eileen Flynn, a traveller woman who is looking to try and reconcile her people with the rest of the population. The way she does this is by trying to evoke empathy for the poor discriminated against travelling community. Though admirable, such a tactic has traditionally had little effect on those who live near areas with large traveller populations.
Lastly, there was Memet Uludag, one of the more hardline speakers. He spoke of sweeping right wingers off the streets “like we did to pegida.” I got more of the ‘potential domestic terrorist’ vibe than civil activist – and that’s before he mentioned finding a ‘permanent solution’ to the ‘racist problem.’
However, despite all this talk of how to stop the rise of the right-wing, there were no real explanations, let alone solutions to the problem of our existence. There was a bit of talk about re-educating poor white people (read: brainwashing vulnerable Irish people). Even their talk of ‘street action’ seemed flat, considering that most attendees were not physically formidable enough to scare a paraplegic mouse with PTSD.
Speaking of the people at the event, they were really a weird bunch. Many seemed rather unhinged, which to be honest is standard at any political event. More interestingly, the vast majority seemed to find no contradiction in discussing the evils of capitalism while simultaneously wearing designer brand clothing and drinking Starbucks™ coffee.
There wasn’t even communal catering for the event, then again given the history of communism and food supply, perhaps that isn’t surprising. I was shocked to see how willingly the common socialist parted with their money for overpriced food made on the backs of oppressed minorities. What better than to talk about how evil the bourgeois system is over €5 chicken fillet rolls? Meanwhile I sat there, bemused, in my jacket and jeans from Dunnes, gnawing on stale bread.
Really that’s the most damning aspect of the whole event. This Marxism conference was filled to the brim with the bourgeoisie, who despite their constant preaching about the value of the workers, were actually organising against the values of most working class people. Of those I met, the closest thing to a member of the proletariat in the entire room was probably myself.
Now ain’t that a kick in the head, comrade?