- Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed ― Mahatma Gandhi
Although Tony Rochford has ended his 23 day hunger strike a fortnight back the matter he sought to highlight through his exacting protest deserves to be kept in the public eye – the Property Tax inflicted on a society already ravished by austerity. Even if some have implied that Rochford was rowing his own boat rather than being part of a wider social justice campaign, through his stand he has sewn yet another thread from the bottom up into the fabric of protest rather than have some Committee for Threading make the decision for him.
Examined by a doctor at the request of concerned friends, once assessed it was explained to him that he ‘was approaching the point where heart attacks or pneumonia were becoming a risk.’ By that point he had propelled the case into the national media so he may just have calculated that only a law of diminishing returns awaited him and so brought his action to a close.
As so often happens with these things I wondered why I hadn’t written anything about it at the time, although the first I learned of it was late in the day through the Book The Bankers protest. As ever there is just so much else to do and other things get prioritised, not always correctly, or procrastination sets in, which my wife says is incurable in my case. Before we know it the moment has passed.
The Journal reported that Rochford faced a block on obtaining a tax clearance cert over his non-payment of the property tax. It left him in a dire financial predicament ‘meaning he will be without any income of any kind’ so he took to the most severe form of protest. Like so many others screwed by an economic system that seems to be propelled forward by the people it insists on leaving behind he found himself at the end of his tether.
An attempt by one writer to portray the hunger strike as something totally without merit seems misplaced.
Many of us object to the property tax and indeed other taxes and choose to respond in a measured, constructive or forceful way.
That might just as easily be read as an ineffective way.
However, any form of self-harm made under the guise of political activism should be both condemned and abhorred.
Condemnation, abhorrence! The type of harsh language that should be hurled the way of the Property Tax rather than in the face of a solitary person suffering to thwart its implementation and who has inflicted no harm on any other person.
Whatever the merits or otherwise of hunger striking, it is indisputable that it has helped once again spotlight the dripping fang that has so frequently plunged into the neck of Irish society.
The Celtic Vampire arrived in Ireland and called itself a Tiger. Because it initially purred rather than snarled society fell for its charms, not realising that people were merely fresh meat to it. Then it bled the country dry. People who should have been receiving counselling for their greed condition were instead allowed to manage the economy: a real case if ever there was one of the lunatics running the asylum. Endlessly reiterating the Milton Friedman question ‘well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed?’, they found the answer in their own enrichment.
When going hungry for justice is contraposed against being hungry for profit a hunger strike against the merchants of austerity doesn't seem such a terrible idea.