“Radlib: Short for Radical Liberal. Used as an insult among leftist groups for people who claim to be radicals or leftists, often to feel good about themselves, but express liberal, uninformed or otherwise non-leftist views about important topics such as capitalism, reformism vs revolution, lgbtq+ rights, gender politics, etc.” — Urban Dictionary
Over the previous month, readers would have found it hard to ignore the last ditch rearguard action by the Left flank of the Irish Green Party against the ratification of CETA, a free trade agreement between the EU and Canada.
With a High Court challenge by Green TD Patrick Costello, and candid opposition by a disgruntled coterie of hard Left TDs, defiance to CETA has acted as a forum for the more jaundiced elements of the Party conscious of a looming electoral wipeout.
Following the effective disintegration of their once protrusive youth wing, and public defections of prominent representatives, nevermind the walking debacle that is Hazel Chu’s Seanad run, the Party is revisiting its 2011 nadir, languishing at a measly 3% in polling.
18 months are apparently a long time in Irish politics. And it is in those 18 months the prospects of the once electorally sprightly Green Party have imploded, forgoing the energy garnered during the Climate Action movement of 2019, in favor of a myopic punt at power.
As evidenced by the Climate Action Bill, the Greens punch well above their weight numerically. Nevertheless, dissatisfaction with the coalition has spurred the creation of a proto-party consisting of eco-socialists within and without the shell of Ryan’s GP.
Last week a leaked trove of policy documents gave us an outline of this proto-party dubbed ‘An Rabharta Glas — Green Left‘ with below a quoted selection of some of the policies posited by the as of yet amorphous and partially anonymous group.
Social and Economic Justice:
The establishment of a commission to determine whether the actions of the Irish state amounted to ‘cultural genocide’ against Irish travellers with the potential of a state apology arising from any ruling.
The prioritisation of Irish Travellers on vaccination list due to ‘systemic racism’
The Introduction of hate speech legislation complemented by additional hate crime statutes.
The creation of a ‘Traditions of Ireland Museum’ to focus on the respective history of Travellers, Protestants as well as Black and other ethnic minority people in Ireland.
Free access to period products.
A mandate that no more than 60% of any board for a state company must be from one gender.
A move towards a 30 hour work week with the repealing of the 1989 Workplace Relations Act and the obligation on employers to recognise trade unions.
Agriculture and Rural Affairs
The gradual phasing out by legislative fiat of chemical fertilisers with their replacement coming in the form of wood based alternatives.
A greater emphasis on rewilding and reforestation with financial incentives to be granted to farmers to convert land to boscage.
Conversion of 15% of land into national parks by 2030 with a promise to protect 50% of Irish waters as marine reserves.
Energy and Climate Change
A total phasing out of fossil fuels by the year 2030 with prohibition on fossil fuel extraction or infrastructure construction.
A ban on solid fuels for home heating by 2025.
A kerosene tax akin to what is seen in the Netherlands
The removal of the Catholic Church from a position of control in Irish education
Mandatory Philosophy classes to allow students to discern against ‘disinformation’
Comprehensive sex education on LGBTQIA+ issues
Abolition of third level registration fees.
The closure of Shannon as well as regional airports with alternatives to flying being found in the form of a public ferry company.
A cap on flights allowed per year set to ten.
A ban on private jets and helicopters in Irish airspace.
Organisationally those penning the document are keen to emphasise its non-hierarchical nature likely aping the org charts seen with groups like People Before Profit without a formalised leader. On issues of financing the venture merchandising is placed front and centre with various items of clothing as well as keyrings retaining from anywhere from €5 to €60 euro.
Regarding tax, An Rabartha Glas also seeks the raising of corporation tax in line with a wider EU wide move with proposals voiced to raise income tax to 49% on anything above €80,000 as well as an increase in Capital Acquisition Tax from 33% to 45%.
To say the current flock of Left parties in the Republic is a crowded and recursive field is most certainly a truism, and a well validated one at that. Readers not entirely plugged into the fissiparous nature of Irish socialism may find it hard to tell An Rabharta Glas apart from Murphy’s Rise, let alone People Before Profit, from which the latter has recently semi-merged back into.
What is striking about the preliminary manifesto of this green grouping is not so much it’s radicalism, but rather its mundanity. It is merely a few degrees of separation from the views espoused by the more progresive factions of Fine Gael. The only difference being chunks of environmental and economic policy, which would facilitate the Irish people reverting to a form of eco-induced peasantry in a quixotic ploy to combat climate change.
In a political environment where tracts of a hard Left agenda can easily percolate into a Programme for Government, or directly into legislation through the medium of our NGO complex, what use is yet another eco-socialist party?
As the 21st century gets into its stride, the prospect of serious planetary constraints on growth draws ever closer, calling for a genuine alternative to the present Liberal dispensation. In the face of this calling An Rabharta Glas like so much of the Left is found wanting. I can think of a multitude of ways to assist the environment and biodiversity but do not see how the privileging of travellers on the vaccination list or queer theory for teenagers fits into that equation.
While there are segments of this proto-manifesto one can easily find admirable, vis-à-vis the more social democratic policies, the idea that this is more the scribbles of a few overgrown Chapo Trap House listeners is laughable.
As a sort of ejection pod, An Rabharta Glas, if it even maintains that name, will launch from the dying embers of the Green Party. From there it is destined just to be part of the white noise among the forest of indistinguishable Left parties currently clambering over themselves along environmental lines.
With a lack of any real organisational hierarchy, nevermind the defective personality types that coagulate around modern left-wing groups, there is also the possibility it, like so much of the contemporary Left, will crumble into infighting, personality cults, and nevermind the spectre of useless identity politics. There is a reason why Sinn Féin exists as the nation’s most successful left-wing party, with its Fenian Fuhrer principle allowing them to avoid the power struggles brought about by a lack of rigid hierarchy.
Ultimately those who had a hand in creating this manifesto would have been better spent founding a strategically placed eco-left NGO, rather than diluting the Left vote even further.
The Republic will witness its first Left government in the not too distant future, and the sooner this scenario eventuates itself the better, with or without An Rabharta Glas at the helm. For decades we’ve had legacy civil war parties forming ideological mudguards for the Left granting the former enough plausible deniability to act as a form of fake opposition. The sooner this dynamic breaks down and the electorate begins to witness the real world effects of letting the lunatics run the national asylum, the better.
In closing, if pining for a genuine environmental alternative to the present malaise one could do worse than contributing to the soon to launch MEON e-journal. If this century is to be defined by environmental issues, let not the tempo be dictated by insular groups of radlib babies placing their power games over the welfare of our world.