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Correspondence: poverty in the six counties

10 June 2024

Poverty still exists. I know this because I am “poor,” (living in poverty). And I am not the only one in this well off place. If poverty could be eradicated, we would probably need to live in a well-off society that could afford to get rid of it. Well, we can and have been capable of it for about a hundred and fifty years.

But the existence of poverty is a fact so what can be done about it?

In the time of Covid there was a bit of inspiration to socialist thinking people. We saw in action the sheer surplus amount of cash that holds the promise of eradicating poverty for good. But socialists and everybody else should know that this has always been the case.

We’re seeing the holes in the system a lot more these days. Capitalism got by ideologically for years with its accelerated society where nobody could get a moment to look around and get some perspective. But over the last approximately two decades that has changed.

More and more capitalism seems like just one way of organizing society amongst other possibilities. The more people think there needs to be an alternative and the more the system remains in these hole ridden states a slow encroachment and undermining of bourgeois ideology will continue.

People have always cared about poverty. But where once it was seen as a noble charity now there is genuine outrage about its continuing existence.

The only way the Tories can keep this up is by telling people that other things are good, like pointing to an inflation figure when it goes down. The message is poverty is a necessary evil and the Tories go out of their way to divide the poor into a collection of demonizing labels until there are no “deserving” poor left.

A Labour Government will not change this system. Could they ever? Of course not, they’ve never wanted to. But if you think capitalism is the only show in town and we have to make it work, then support Starmer.

Reforms should be seen by socialists  as those changes which will benefit the working class’s ability to overthrow capitalism.

Left revolutionary parties run for election in the South of Ireland desperately arguing for minor reforms. The trouble with this is it sends a message to people that capitalism is worth fighting over.

Reforms are important but if they are not great wins for the working class then they should be seen as such instead of just adding to the confusion and the interference.

Most of the left acts like capitalism is going nowhere soon. This is seen in their support for reformist policies, revealed in their support for an amorphous leftist current where the all-important thing is to get the left in power of the Labour Party. They have to go on about calling on the government for change because it’s the Labour Party they really care about, the parliamentary left.

The Free Palestine Movement has yet again shown that the left’s strength is on the streets.

Forget about getting the left into parliament, instead, create democracy outside of it. Turn the movements into democratic bodies.

The left of the Labour Party has never got into power because of the way the system is rigged. Millitant thought that one day there would be a revolutionary Labour Party but socialists should not work for this.

The power of capitalist ideology cannot be fought from parliament or even half way in parliament. Socialist groups need to totally concentrate on building their membership with the message that waiting for a left-wing Labour Party is pointless

A recent report on the BBC News said that shoplifting has gone up by 20 per cent in the North, mostly it seems for food. Sinn Féin ignored an opposition bill to end the child cap on Child Allowance which shows where their priorities lie.

Sinn Féin will never have to decide on the really important things like funding for the Welfare State or taxing the rich. Don’t forget in 2015 Sinn Féin passed a motion supported by the DUP to hand responsibility for welfare reform (cuts) back to the Tory government in Westminster. Sinn Féin has looked on as public services have been slashed in recent years.

Pressure from below can even have an impact on a Starmer led or coalition government, possibly more so than the Tories. But that impact can only be strong if it forgets about having allies in parliament.

In the North orange versus green is the main focus of the power sharing majority. Functionality of government has never been a top priority at Stormont.  The next Stormont election will give us nothing different where the real issues of government spending and the welfare state will continue to go unchallenged.


Conor Riordan

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