Peter O’Loughlin, the clean-cut poster child of Ireland’s newest far-right political party Identity Ireland, may be frustrated tonight that his attempted Beerhall Putsch ended in farce. Today’s events may indeed spell the end of his own particular hopes for a rise to power, but that the racists in our midst now have the confidence to come out of the woodwork is indicative of more worrying changes in our social and political landscape. Under immense pressure from a robust and ascendant globalised Capitalist agenda, and being stripped bare by a vicious homespun austerity programme in compliance with the demands of nakedly hostile mercantilist Europe, our national community is showing the familiar signs of fragmentation. People, confused and frightened by the diversionary tactics of the state and commercial media, are increasingly looking for scapegoats, and so we have come almost full circle in little less than a century.

With O’Loughlin himself shouting down the Anti-Racism Network protesters who gate-crashed his party’s launch with such inanities as “The only reason we have the Irish language is because of Nationalism,” it is clear that he may not be the sharpest knife in the box. Yet this does not mean that his rhetoric is not appealing to more and more people trapped in Ireland’s economy of fear, ignorance, and poverty. Neither does it mean that there are not sharper examples waiting in the wings to advance the cause of racism in our country. What the launch of Identity Ireland does mean, however, is that opinions which see an essential difference between those with Irish citizenship and those who are ethnically Irish (implying they are really Irish) are again becoming mainstream.

We must consider all of this a wake-up call. History’s lesson is clear; that at times of economic chaos, rising levels of poverty, and when wealth is being accumulated to the cost of the poor by the top percentile of our global and national economies, that racism presents itself as a solution. It is in the interests of the rich that the less-well-off blame one another for their present sufferings, and it is the rich who own the media and direct its spin. It suits the purposes of those in government, who are always in the pockets of the wealthy and truly powerful, to channel blame away from the guilty by assisting their victims to find fault in the most vulnerable. We must act always and everywhere against racism, particularly racism with a political voice, because it can only provide a get-out-of-gaol-free-card to the perpetrators of inequality, and because we know all too well where it leads.

Jason Michael
Blog Author

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