Ireland is in the midst of a massive popular awakening as hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to protest the introduction of water charges. After too many years of austerity it would appear the people have decided enough is enough and almost spontaneous rebellion has appeared in every town and city. Confrontations between Gardai and campaigners that are reminiscent of the suppression of protest in Rossport have erupted in Dublin suburbs.
The cartoon on the left is from a few months ago but expresses how Kurds saw the role of the Turkish state towards ISIS and the conflict in Syria. Considerable evidence of support for ISIS from the Turkish state has been published in the international media over the last months. An ISIS commander told the Washington Post on August 12, 2014, "We used to have some fighters -- even high-level members of the Islamic State -- getting treated in Turkish hospitals."
This Sunday the Observer revealed details of a US Special forces raid on an ISIS compound. “One senior western official familiar with the intelligence gathered at the slain leader’s compound said that direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now “undeniable”.” Oil smuggling was what that ISIS leader was co-ordinating with the Turkish officials and ISIS were getting an “estimated $1m-$4m per day in oil revenue”
17th May and ISIS capture Ramadi and with it another huge stock of modern US weaponry. Something like 6000 US trained Iraqi soldiers have fled the city without putting up much of a fight. From all accounts the ISIS force was considerable smaller and reliant on a waves of suicide car bombs for its final attack. It’s not hard to see why ISIS had been successful in establishing the idea that it was indeed an unstoppable force carrying out gods will.
But on the same day to the north west ISIS suffer yet another major defeat at the hands of the YPG and YPJ in Rojava. The YPG/J unlike the Iraqi army is a force almost starved of heavy modern weaponry. Photos have circulated online of self constructed armoured vehicles, often tractors with steel boxes bolted on, that for all intents and purposes are identical to the home made anarchist armour of the 1930s Spanish revolution. And no match at all for the captured US armour ISIS have.
Austerity was never going to be defeated by the vote. We don't live in an economic democracy, we live in an economic dictatorship where only those with vast wealth determine its course. Parliament provides a useful illusion, one that limits our dreams and stops us acting to make them a reality. The real defeat in Greece will not be the capitulation of Syriza but rather if that capitulation is broadly accepted as the end of the road of struggle.
Last night (2 July) the IMF in effect put its weight behind the Syriza government and the call for a No vote (OXI) in the referendum. An image of Chile's socialist president Allende, murdered in the 1973 US coup 'backing' the No vote captured for us both the contradictions and dangers of Sunday's vote in Greece.
It now appears that the Syriza's insistence that the severe nature of what the Trokia demanded meant that the Greek people had to directly decide through referendum on whether or not to comply has been replaced with the more standard 'We can decide for you' of electoralist politics. That is unless the letter from Tsipras offering a deal that the Financial Times has leaked is a forgery, which seems unlikely.
According to how uncritical individuals and organisations are of Syriza they are currently taking one side or another in an argument as to whether this indicates a sell out or is some new master stroke. But it reinforces our criticism of the hopes placed in electoralism and Syriza. Once more the people who elected them and those in solidarity with them across Europe are reduced to being spectators in something akin to an episode of West Wing.
The ideas of each age tend to become that of the ruling ideology and we are seeing an extraordinary example of that at the moment. As a response the ECB/IMF attack on Greek democracy an online fund it campaign has been set up to fund the 1.6 billion interest owed and so far 1,863 people have contributed.
The first problem is the obvious practical one that the 1.6 billion if raised only represents the latest interest instalment on an unplayable debt over 300 billion. So even if successful such a project would only kick the ball down the road for a month or two.
The next water charges march happens in Dublin June 20th. Here are 3 reasons why you should do your best to be on it.
1. Both the government and Irish Water are refusing to release figures about the number of people who have not paid the bills. The reason is clearly that so far this figure is very high - if it wasn’t they would be sure to have it plastered all over every newspaper front page. A large turnout for this demonstration is important so that isolated non-payers do not get a sense that non-payment is not flagging.
2. Meter installation blockades have continued all around the country but for four weeks one well known Dublin protester Steven Bennett has been held on remand in Cloverhill prison because he refused to accept stringent bail conditions that would have prevented him protesting. The government abandoned attempts to intimidate protesters with the court injunction after the jailing of the Edenmore 4 backfired and resulted in mass protests. It’s essential that they continue to understand that repression will lead to protest and that they can’t pick off people they view as uncontrollables.
The last 24 hours (29th May) have demonstrated the truth of 'If you want to know who really rules you find out who you are not allowed to criticise'. As the image shows billionaire media mogul Denis O'Brien has managed to almost completely suppress stories about him in the few outlets he does not control.
Those media outlets he has ownership of seem to have somehow missed TD Catherine Murphy's revelation that somehow O'Brien had managed to only pay 1.25% interest on the 500 million he owed to IBRC (in effect to us) rather than the expected market rate of around 7.5%. The difference costs us about 30 million a year.
This isn't the first story of O'Brien getting a good deal from the IBRC. Almost a year ago the Irish Times reported "in a deal that again involved the writing down of bank debt. O’Brien took a controlling interest after he bought about €304 million of the Topaz Energy Group’s] loans from the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in liquidation,for a reported €150 million."