Sometimes the old ones are the gold ones. The attempt by the Irish state to damage the electoral chances of the Anti Austerity Alliance by hitting them where it matters - in the pocket - reminds us of how shallow parliamentary democracy is. The Anti Austerity Alliance is the political front the Socialist Party runs under but for the next elections its unified with the SWPs People Before Profit as the rather lengthy AAA - PbP.
It's broadly understood that cash determines who wins an election more than any other factor. Indeed with the US presidential election, for almost a century, the winner has always been the candidate who had the most money behind them. So in terms of influencing the outcome of an election denying a party the right to fundraise is probably the single most effective tactic short of banning them outright.
The AAA have just been told (10th September) that they are not allowed to collect funds in Galway - an identical ban to that already imposed on them in Dublin west. Even the laziest journalist has to recognise that this is political policing. Indeed if you are a fan of so called parliamentary democracy its hard to think of a more nakedly political action the Garda can take than trying to determine who wins and loses the next election.
There won't be much of an outcry from the mainstream media though. This is because they already understand this is a disciplinary action to try and make the AAA follow the rules that are designed to ensure those who take the electoralist road become incorporated into the system. As with other parties before them they are being punished by the state for trying to ride two horses at once, that of electoralism and that of radical action. The periodic media scares about the IRA still existing is the same logic applied to Sinn Fein, in both cases the message is 'make a choice lads or we will make that choice for you'.
Those who take the electoralist road tend to be dismissive of the anarchist critique of it, even when the accuracy of that critique is demonstrated. Certainly the AAAs controlling party, the Socialist Party, are very hostile to anarchism. Yet their treatment is a literal example of one of the oldest anarchist slogans 'If elections could change anything, they would make them illegal'.
Ken Livingston, ex mayor of London and once time head of the Greater London Council actually called his book on the abolition of the GLC by the Tory government 'If Voting Changed Anything, They'd Abolish It ' as that was exactly what happened to the GLC once it became dominated by the radical left. In Ireland a different tack was taken, central government simply removed all real power from the councils and passed them to an unelected city manager. Yet left councillors continue to perform at the council, this week a meaningless motion to abolish the water charges was passed to much acclaim.
We need look no further than the Labour Party in power to understand the costs to political activist of performing for years in that game. Gilmore, Rabbitte, Lynch and other senior figures were members of the largest revolutionary left organisation Ireland has yet seen back in the 70s. And unless you believe that they joined the Workers Party as a career moved its obviously the case that something transformed them into the well-fed servants of power they ended their political careers as.
In essence that is what this political policing of the AAA boils down to. Choose between the possibility of the ministers merc and pensions as the reward for a couple of decades of good behaviour or don't expect to be given space to continue to play with electoralism. It's a demonstration of just how hollow our so called democracy is and the need to replace it with a democracy where we have a direct say in our communities and our workplaces in all the decisions that effect us.
WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )