The Irish Crisis: Don’t mourn, organise

My dad died 31 years ago this week. My mom, who has taken up web-development in her mid-70s, went looking for an obscure picture of him to scan into an anniversary email to her children and grandchildren, but instead turned up this beautiful piece of organising ephemera from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, c 1968.

Sitting in the cold and wind for an ‘Occupy University’ session in Dame Street the following day, I thought ‘Operation Move In’ seemed like an especially good idea. But what really struck me, with more than a little grief, was how the very same activism and action are needed today as nearly my whole lifetime ago – how far we haven’t come.

On a shorter time-scale and closer to home, ‘crisisjamming’ this year is reminder of the sort-of-failure of ‘budgetjamming’ this time last year. Here on this site a group of earnest and articulate writers spent last year’s Budget season like the fabled boy shouting that the emperor had no clothes. By jayzus, folks listened to the shouts, and the man they took for the naked emperor was shipped home to Offaly. But the elites, not skipping a beat, wheeled out an equally naked Mayoman, and barely trouble themselves this time to spin a fairytale about the finery he’s wearing.

The irony of Enda Kenny delivering a State of the Nation address at a time when the 26-county version of the nation scarcely has a democratic state to speak of is lost on absolutely no one by now. But mere ironies, and mere websites devoted to their total exposure, won’t do the necessary political work for us.

There are vast empty spaces in our societies where democracy should be. They need to be occupied not only by our words but, for those of us for whom it is possible, by our actions, by our bodies. It really is time to get organised for Operation Move In.

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