"Nothing is different, it just isn't the same"

I started out to write something about the imprisionment of Pat O Donnell, a farmer from Mayo, in the west of Ireland. The charges where trumped up by the Irish police force, as part of ongoing harrassment of members of the local community and (inter)national campaigners taking on Royal Dutch Shell.

It's only through reading reports on indymedia of the particulars of the case that i realised i was present at the incident that saw these charges brought. It promted me to write something, but as i started i had a real sense of deja vu. I soon realised why. Heres an article wrote and originally published just under five years ago. Nothing is different, it just isnt the same.


 

Wheels Of Democracy Oiled As Ordinary People Feel The Friction Globally

 

Welcome to the Ireland of the 21st century. A country where ordinary folks are locked up in prison for deciding to stand up against a multinational corporation hell bent on exploiting both people and finite resources for their own personal gain. The fact that Micheál Ó Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, Vincent McGrath, and Philip McGrath are still in prison suggests very clearly that our justice system and our ‘leaders’ are much more interested in maintaining close friendships with multinational business criminals, than they are in ensuring that justice, equality and sustainability are central and practical values at the core of society.

In Ireland like much of the western developed world, we’ve almost become so cynical and tired of our political ‘leaders’ that we hardly bat an eyelid about the gombeen politics of corruption, about the stealing of the wealth we all help create and of the resources we all share. But the courage and conviction of the Rossport five, their families and supporters suggest that people are not afraid to take back democracy and put it where it belongs, with the people.

 

The governments love affair with Big Oil seems folly considering the state of oil reserves around the world. Pretty much all research suggests that peak oil production will peak within our lifetime. So why the drive for more oil and gas…..its simple. These companies don’t give a shit that the planet is burning up any more than they give a shit about ordinary communities who might get in the way of their profits. That unfortunately is an inherent feature of capitalism. This is having drastic consequences for humanity as a whole. It is always the ordinary folks, the ones that corporations and states see as without a strong voice, the people without slick and massively funded lobby groups, it is always us, who suffer first. It is always and will continue to be communities who work and rely on the land for income who suffer most as a result of climate change. It so happens that this project involves Shell and Statoil, but you know that it could equally be Mobil, Exxon BP or any of the others. Our own Top Oil sees no problems in refuelling bombers at Shannon Airport . Big Business thinks values and ethics are a bit like the coast and people of Mayo, kinda quaint but not really relevant in their big picture.

The reliance on oil and gas as energy sources has already caused changes in this planets climate. We are at the point were drastic changes in how we create energy, and how we consume energy is needed for the survival of future generations. Ireland has doubled its oil consumption in the three years between 1989 and 2001* . It wasn’t always that way. Before the Celtic tiger in the mid 90’s Ireland was well below the per capita EU average for oil use. But since then we as a country have become even more oil dependant than the US. So if our health system is in such disarray, pensions getting robbed by the state and we are building up borders to stop people entering the country just who the hell is profiting from all this? The use of renewable energy sources is deliberately being left on the shelf so that these companies can suck all the profits they can out of the earth.

Sustainable living is something that is easily understood by those working the land. The intricate balance of nature and man is not something that can be restored easily when the scales have tipped to far, and that is exactly where we find ourselves right now. For to long the power of how the world is organised has been held by those who value profit more than they value communities and cultures. The effects are seen in every part of the globe. The right to determine how our societies function has been robbed from us, with elected representatives themselves losing power to world trade agreements lobbied for and put together by large corporations. Our ‘leaders’ have signed blanks cheques, selling out our democracy as well as our future generations. This has to be challenged now. We don’t have the luxury of cynicism, nor can we remain feeling disempowered in the face of Big Business and impotent and corrupt governments. Meaningful change towards justice equality and sustainable ways of living have only ever happen when people stood up to those that hold on to profit and power.

More importantly it is us who can make these changes happen. We need to look at ways of being less reliant on oil, both as individuals and collectively. We need to become more aware of our consumption and the energy chain involved. But we also need to bring these arguments right back at the companies and the government itself.

The actions of the Rossport five are similair to those in communities right across the globe. It is these self empowered actions, whether by the ‘landless’ in Mexico, or farmers in India that are the backbone of any society that professes to be a democracy. This is a struggle as diverse as the world population but with one single ‘no’. People right across the globe are seeing that their local struggles are united against a global economic system based upon exploitation and instutionalised inequalities. As we reach out and learn about and from each other, as we continually see that we are losing what freedoms and liberties that we have, we steadily empower ourselves with confidence. We can inspire each other with our passions and energy to feel that we can tackle the over whelming might of business criminality and corrupt governments with our creativity solidarity and courage.

  


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