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Pat O’Connor appreciation

by D.R.O'Connor Lysaght

27 September 2015

Pat O’Connor was a revolutionary socialist. The materialist dialectic was as the air he breathed. He was dedicated to the struggle that must give state power to the working people of this country as a base from which will develop the only possible form of socialism, that is world socialism. He performed his duty not with a Kalashnikov nor a mortar, not by robbing banks, however much the cause could have done with the money, but by determined propaganda and agitation to spread the divine gospel of discontent and cause the working people of Ireland to feel the mass dissatisfaction with the system without which the most meticulously planned rebellion can only be a putsch.

His death is the greater loss in that, today, the forces of globalisation and neo-liberalism that blocked the revolutionary path for three and an half decades are seen more readily for what they are. The freedom and prosperity that they promised are being revealed as the purtenances of the already rich. Freedom is to be taken away from the democracy by the planned free trade agreement, the TTIP, by which any act of a country that a business considers hurts its profits can be punished with fines that must burden that land’s citizenry for generations. Prosperity has been ended first by the depression and then by its solution, the austerity policies drafted to rob the poor to benefit the rich. 

Homelessness is higher than at the depth of the depression and the water charge must increase it further. Undoubtedly, the Government expects that by being homeless people will be disenfranchised (they should beware this will not be true for all). Unemployment is down, as are real wages. Numbers awaiting healthcare are up. Education is still overwhelmingly in the hands of the religious, at least until third level when it is guided by the needs for profit of the business community, national and international. As in James Joyce’ time, ‘God and Caesar walk hand in hand’ in Ireland.
If we are serious about keeping Pat’s memory green, or, more importantly, red, this assembly cannot be the end. It is necessary to continue to fight against the water charges and to bring the struggle into the unions, for them to black the installation of meters, tardy tho’this is.  It can be objected that there is a pool of labour that will scab in this and so it must be added further that it is particularly necessary to organise the unorganised. In fact, Ireland is back to the days before Larkin, when it was a matter of faith among trade union leaders that the dockers were unorganisable. Larkin disproved this and, though it is difficult to see any single Larkin today,there are enough activists to learn from him. The TTIP must be opposed. The woman’s right to choose must be won. The people of the twenty-six counties have to mobilise to achieve real democracy in the six counties. 

All these issues must be raised in the opportunity that will be provided in the coming general election. There is a danger here that this will be seen by too many socialists as an opportunity for getting bums on seats (The word bum may be interpreted either way). In fact, it will be better for a small minority that understands the issues thoroughly to elect a few deputies than for a larger number of TDs to be elected by less conscious voters. The wise words of Connolly must be recalled: ‘the electoral battle is merely the shadow of the struggle.’ This was Pat O’Connor’s view and the best way to commemorate him is to act on it and campaign not just to change the government but for to change the class nature of state power in Ireland.

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