|With apologies to Emma Goldman….|
The Beast from the East not only caused the country to come to a halt for several days; it inspired the revolutionary proletariat of Tallaght to strike a blow against corporate capitalism and globalisation.
A LIDL store was demolished after being expropriated, and an attempt was made to burn down a Centra shop over which a number of people were living in apartments. Mostly the insurgents concentrated on attacking their neighbours who showed signs of having succumbed to consumerism. Some of the rebels clearly knew their Marcuse, and thoughtfully stole cars and smashed windows and mugged in an effort to bring the labour aristocracy back into the ranks of the Risen People.
Only a few stout comrades spoke out in favour of the Tallaght Panthers. Some even pointed out that LIDL is a non union shop, which of course was one of the main motivations for the toiling masses exacting their vengeance. The ultra left local elected representatives were either curiously silent or attempted to excuse the mayhem. Paul Murphy TD slammed the “naked class hatred” of those who condemned the criminality, and ludicrously tried to deflect from it by referring to protests over water charges. Their heroic defence of the LIDL 9 will not be forgotten.
Such ultra leftist dissimulation or even open support for those who prey on working class communities is not new, especially on the part of “revolutionaries” whose own class origins are rather different. It is very retro 1968, when the student run Berkeley Barb declared: “We are all criminals in the blind eyes of pig America… All property is target. All lawmen are enemy! From now on, Total Disregard for the man’s homes, jobs, polls, streets, stores, churches, daughters sons pets media culture games goals laws and orders. WE ARE THE FORCES OF CHAOS AND ANARCHY.”
What would their poor mothers have thought of it all?
Marx, when he was not writing about the revolutionary demand for transgender toilets, took a rather dim view of what his followers once termed the “lumpen proletariat.” Marx referred to them as social “dross,’” and “scum” who were the “recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all sorts, living off the garbage of society.” Writing about the periodic working class revolts in Paris, Engels referred to the taking of vengeance by the insurrectionists against the criminals. Mort aux voleurs! Death to the thieves! was daubed on the houses of criminals, so that they could be dealt with by their victims. Engels claimed that anyone purporting to be in the workers movement who pandered to these “gutter proletarians” was a traitor.
Tallaght was the first instance of rioting here since 2006 when a protest against a loyalist march developed into an outdoor shopping expedition as the barefoot oppressed of Dublin, and beyond, helped themselves to the contents of Foot Locker and other shoe emporiums.
In so doing, the starving masses made a Situationist statement that they would rather feed their souls with bright new fuck off orange trainers than take breakfast rolls and cornflakes from Spar, although the off license section was visited in a blow against the attempt to distract them in their righteous work of liberation with the opium of cheap alcohol.
Other European cities have witnessed such behaviour on a far grander scale. In 2005 there was something akin to an uprising by the Parisian underclass. London in 2011 erupted after the shooting by police of an armed drug dealer. While some on the Pollyanna left celebrated the riots, others recognised it as a phantasmagoria of the anti-social lumpen proletariat who were merely preying on and victimising the communities they infest on a larger scale than usual.
There were of course those, as in Dublin, who defended the assault of the lumpens on those around them. Solicitor Lucy Finchett-Maddock attempted to provide an ideological veneer by invoking the revolt of the “invisible and forgotten” against the “commodity fetish”; through the “freeing of the commodity from the realms of individualism.” That would be robbing, for those of us not familiar with Lacan and Derrida. The SWP described the killing of Duggan as “racist,” implying that the criminal mayhem that ensued was justified, and the former leader of the Militant Tendency part of which became Paul Murphy’s Socialist Party described the London riots as a “symptom of a general crisis of capitalism,” and claimed that only a minority had been motivated by criminality.
That sort of nonsense is a reversion to the adulation of the criminal that was common among the American left in the 1960s and 70s; among whose heroes were George Jackson and the Panthers led by a serial rapist and a drug dealer. In contrast, Malcolm X, who in his earlier life had been a criminal, had no such tolerance for the veneration of those who preyed on poor black people. In the 1960s, the Amsterdam News based in Harlem called for a crackdown on drug dealing and was attacked for supporting the “pigs.” Organisers of anti-rape marches in New York were accused of racism by Angela Davis, one of Jackson’s groupies.
Such dysfunctional thinking leads to a situation in which the burglar and mugger may be regarded as rebels against “bourgeois property relations” The logical conclusion of that line of thought is that the victims of crime ought not to be regarded as victims at all, but rather as “those who have an excess or surplus of commodities.” Stuart Hall declared that if street crime was an “evil,” then it was only so because it was the product of an “evil system.”
Dostoyevsky was a political prisoner in Siberia where he was surrounded mostly by criminals. He was dismissive of any sociological explanation of crime. Anticipating the amorality of the post modern left, Dostoyevsky stated that if we attribute criminal acts to the environment then we must logically conclude that all crime is a “noble protest against the environment.”
Foucault went beyond that to almost celebrate violent deviancy. He was fascinated by the potential to use power unrestricted by any sort of constraint. That led Chomsky to describe Foucault as “completely amoral” and as someone who had turned their back on any conception of a society that might embody the values of the Enlightenment, values which were at the basis of the democratic working class movement.
Those who subject communities to the sort of terror that was visited on Tallaght a fortnight ago epitomise that amorality. The only thing that matters is the gratification of their deviancy, and at anyone’s expense. They are assisted in the justification of their parasitism by a range of lawyers who ensure that they can run up dozens of convictions before being imprisoned; “social scientists” who construct the myth that the criminal is the primary victim, and a bankrupt ideology that attributes crime against ordinary people, often trying to do their best in difficult circumstances, to a range of causes from bin charges to climate change to Leo Varadkar’s jacket.
Perhaps some of the people inclined to look fondly on events such as took place in Tallaght might reflect upon what their fantasy of the breakdown of social order might look like.
I suspect it would be less like a scene from an Eisenstein film, and more like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
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