For those of us concerned about the health of our families and friends, of our neighbours and co-workers, there is something distinctly worrying about the recent confluence of lockdown-scepticism between some of the country’s conservative or neoliberal media and the internet propagandists of the wannabe Irish far-right. The conspiracy theorists and outright racists who have taken their online thuggery to the streets of Dublin and elsewhere over the last few weeks, daring the authority of the State, have done so because those with respect and standing in our society have created an environment conducive for their real-world thuggery.
Of course there has long been a number of reactionary journalists and newspaper columnists in Ireland who have played footsie with the international alt-right, finding inspiration and ideological succour in the struggles of the Anglo-American culture wars. So it is hardly surprising to find that the tiny hard-core of fascists and xenophobes at home have had their voices amplified by ideological near fellow-travellers in the press, allowing them to profit from the current crisis – or crises – facing the island. But the willingness of so many to step out from the shadows, to abandon pseudonyms and relative anonymity to bask in the adoration of their followers while pointing to the not dissimilar messages of some in the mainstream media is a new phenomenon.
I, along with others, have been warning about the baleful influence of the British and American neo-right movement on our home-grown fascists for some years now. It was only a matter of time before the crazies would start to congregate not on Twitter or Facebook but on the streets. Fortunately they are so far a minority of a minority. But they have friends and sympathisers in surprising places. And even those who would deny any connection, and perhaps be offended by such a suggestion, have taken to platforming their talking points, lending respectability to claims undeserving of anything but contempt.
Last weekend we saw the tinpot would-be dictators, the Hibernian acolytes of Trump and Farage, gathering in the capital, aping American-style rhetoric and terminology with incongruous Irish accents for a ragtag crowd of gurriers and loopers. And we witnessed some publications giving the ill-tempered assembly levels of publicity wholly undeserving of its size or status, while making false equivalency between fascist and anti-fascsist demonstrators. If the violent polemics of the neo-right takes hold in Ireland the blame will not lie with Covid-19 or Brexit or a new global recession but with the Randian instincts and the ideological loyalties of our neoliberal media.
In the contest between those who incidentally or purposefully enable the politics of the far-right and those who actively oppose or deter the politics of the far-right I know where I stand. And unambiguously so.
Absolute crap to label anyone that opposes the absurd lockdown restrictions as a fascist,bigot etc etc. You should be ashamed.
And who is driving the anti-mask, anti-lockdown demonstrations and campaign? Two far-right parties, several far-right groupings and avowed far-right figures on YouTube and Twitter among other platforms. The organised anti-mask movement is led by fascists. End of.
If the mask fits, wear it.
God knows, I am no Sinn Fein supporter, and never have been. But I am glad of their existence, size and influence at the moment. And I have felt this way for quite a while now. To my mind, SF are a bulwark against the fascistic ultra-nationalism trying to gain a foothold in Ireland. If you like, SF is nationalism without the add-ons of anti-foreigner, anti-gay, anti-EU etc. Without SF to provide a voice and an outlet for reasonable nationalists, imagine how many more people would be drawn to lending their support the ultras?
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What I find funny but not so funny is that all the media were claiming up until today that this was an anti lockdown protest with some media mentioning there was an affiliation with the far right. today the irish times mention it was by the far right np party (phew)..If they were to be honest or following them they would have known that there was to be a proper far right or proper fascist meeting or protest outside the dail on saturday.. Afa Ireland, wsm and other activists or groups have been keeping an eye on them. I absolutely know what side I am on with this one and I will definitely not sit on the fence. We cannot let fascism take hold in this country and we are not immune to it. I also believe and know that the anti fascist activists are taking a multi facetted approach not just using force against them.
There was an article that Sionnach Fionn did about Moseley marching and getting run off the streets by the then antifa, very interesting but also throughout Europe in the 20 s and 30s the Police protected the fascists marching and we saw what happened there.. In Sweden they have been battling with fascism since the 90s and we saw what golden dawn did and their courtcase recently.. We must make the life of fascism in Ireland difficult . We must not let it get momentum. This march yesterday was organised by te NP, tan torino, Na ridri. The Np advocate the murder of doctors who perform abortions, want to send every non Irish person (specifically black people Asian people and Muslims) back to where they came from. Doesn t matter if your black and born in Ireland which to me is as Irish as I am.
Yeah, there was a curious effort to downplay the nature of those who held the ‘protest’ outside the Dáil on Saturday as if no way no how could they be far-right.
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heres an interesting watch
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The question would still be whether anti-lockdown or anti-mask groups solely attract people who are on the far right, or if they are simply the most visible.
It’s my view that lockdown skepticism was inevitable. The real harms of the lockdown are not trivial. It strikes me as likely that it’s less a case of “except for the extreme right everyone is all for extended repeat lockdowns and long term social distancing” and more a case of “the right knew a good chunk of the population was bound push back and are taking advantage”-in Ireland or any of the many, many other countries dealing with lockdowns and protests.
I’d say the first start is to acknowledge that the harms of lockdown and social distancing are real and serious. That there is very little precedent for something quite like it and the long term consequences may be unknown. In nearly every Democratic country there is a sore need for more nuanced conversations than the ideological wagon circling will allow.
Then there’s the issue about how to make lockdown less necessary. A country Ireland’s size has some advantages when it comes to mass testing and contact tracing. The material and logistical constraints for routine testing of most of the population would be so easy compared to a large country. I get why people are a bit nervous about the contact tracing app. However, I’d argue personal privacy is sometimes less important than rights like freedom of movement, assembly, worship, and the “right to earn a living” described in the ROI’s Constitution. (I wish my state would release a contact tracing app!!!)
The logistics will also be a piece of cake in Ireland, once the vaccines come.
There is no good in being nihilistic about alternatives to either letting the virus run its course, or accepting long term social distancing and intermittent lockdowns. People don’t necessarily need things to go back to normal tomorrow or being given an exact date. They do need to know that things are being done to that end.
Yesterdays protest was not an anti lockdown protest. The papers are saying it was but in fact it had nothing to do with the lockdown. I have seen all the tweets fb msgs etc from early last week organising the event . Last weeks protest had the knights templar flag flying outside the gpo. The event was not hardcore fascist enough for them so the np and na ridri and tan torino organised an event or get together outside the dail to flex. They are capitalising on the pandemic surely but are attracting a lot of very naieve people in the process..if you are familiar with fascist rhetoric or symbols youll know that the protest yesterday was definitively fascist and nothing to do with lockdown.
I have a little familiarity there. It seems that if the papers wrongly reported a right-wing demonstration as anti-lockdown, that they could be unintentionally sending out the message that only the hard-right really cares about the collateral damage of the lockdown.
Great article, Fox. We need people like you to call out things as they are – the mainstream media absolutely can’t be depended on for that. Keep fighting the good fight.
There is valid concern about the authoritarian nature of the so called COVID 19 lockdown.
Make no mistake COVID 19 is being used to introduce draconian surveillance and population control measures. In Scotland we are weeks away from a National Entitlement Card, or more correctly a smart technology National identity Card that will regulate and control a persons ability to access public places, shopping centres, museums, hospitals or access onto trains, busses and other forms of transport. All under the guise of health protection it will be the modern day equivalent of the apartheid South Africa Pass Card system – and all tied to the massive interlinked databases which link driving licences with passports with car ownership with national insurance numbers with tax records with bank accounts with health records. And with facial technology developing a pace and an extensive network of tens of thousands of ANPR cameras that can track vehicles in real time as they move around the road network complete control is now just about all in place.
It’s truly frightening and Covid is the justification to put the last pieces in place.
So yes, decry the anti mask anti lockdown protesters as lunatics of the right. Some may well be, some might just look like it, but this rag tag band of malcontents and street thugs are on actually on the right track in their resistance against authoritarianism.
And if you cannot see that, you should just believe in the Tooth Fairy and the fact that the Irish Famines never happened.. Ordinary people need to wake up and the somnolent majority are as somnolent as their counterparts elsewhere in these islands. The UK is a truly fascist countr6 on your doorstep and some of the republics politico’s are really not that much different.
Ok Assuming it is how you say it is, I can see why you’d be concerned.
That said, I have a couple of questions for you. Would you find compulsory vaccinations and/or contact tracing less repugnant?
I ask that because as far as I can tell The ROI and UK alike have never done mandatory vaccination. The Constitutional status of such a move to the former is under question, and the UK Constitution is the most confusing in the world as far as I can tell.
To me it’s quite extraordinary that the UK has had this Parliamentary Government with a limited Constitutional Monarch nearly as long as effective vaccines existed, and The Irish Republic is going on 100 years old and neither one has really grappled with the question yet. Especially seeing how the UK had that Empire and Ireland was such a poor (thus disease vulnerable) nation when Independence from the UK came.
If you are sure, I’d suggest considering the possibility that mandatory vaccinations may be an essential if not necessarily sufficient ingredient to preserving other freedoms in Scotland. I’m not saying this to play devil’s advocate or cut you down to size at all. This point is 100% in earnest.
Maybe I’m biased because I had to receive a number of mandatory vaccines every year to enroll in school. In either a regular public(state funded) or private Catholic school the vaccines required were identical and the only opt-out available was medical exceptions. And it was a very extensive and aggressive vaccine list compared to what Ireland, the UK, or most European countries then or now, even RECOMMEND at all for children.
It’s my perspective that in the “age of pandemics” it might become harder and harder to combine freedom of movement or assembly, with the idea that a vaccine should be solely a individual choice or a parent/guardian choice for a minor child.
This is in now way at all, trying to invalidate your concerns. I’m only looking at from a perspective of “what are the alternatives”, and what questions people need to be asking about how to preserve freedom with these pandemics.
I agree that no good political movement is likely to do well in a world with association with people outside the immediate household is strongly discouraged.
Willie, I see where you’re coming from, and have a deal of sympathy with your contentions. I remember similar anti-Big Brother arguments being deployed against the widespread introduction in town and city centres of CCTV.
My main concern at the moment, though, is to do with the influence being brought to bear on world politics by wholly unaccountable, multi-national entities such as Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. Even at a micro level, Facebook and Google in particular are, through computer algorithms, monitoring everything you do on a computer. To choose a benign example, if for instance you Google holidays a few times it’s hardly coincidental that over the next few days your Google feed will be full of holiday suggestions.
Much more seriously, it has been proven beyond doubt that Facebook (especially) and Twitter, acting as guns-for-hire to the highest bidder, have determined the outcome of democratic elections in various parts of the world, including in the US and the UK. It has also been proven beyond doubt that lives have been lost in less stable parts of the world because of Facebook allowing itself to be used (for big money, of course) to spread all sorts of lies and false information denigrating whole sections of a society. Is there a government anywhere in the world more influential, on a global scale, than Facebook? Is there a president or prime minister more influential, on a global scale, than Mark Zuckerberg? Yet, in effect, these outfits and others remain free to do as they please, accountable to no one. They hide behind a “free speech” argument, when really for them it’s about the freedom to make yet more mountains of money, regardless of the misery and disruption they cause.
Agree Taman. IT is a blessing and a curse. It is a gun, a baton, a jackboot in the wrong hands. It supresses, it subjugates. As for mandatory vaccination I agree with that as much as I agree with mandatory euthanasia.
Of course as the previous commentator knows fine well their is a trade off in societies between personal freedoms and public protections. No clearer example in her home country with that of guns…. or that of course abortion may be a personal freedom for the mother but not for the unborn child.
So, very sorry but I don’t have all the answers. Never will.
But yes, with the systems coming into place now in the UK its doubtful if Ireland today would ever have been able to secure its independence from the UK. And let us be clear these systems, came in before Covid with Covid just maybe giving the cover for more.
Wow!!! I knew not everyone was going to share my POV on mandatory vaccinations, that’s accepted. But to compare mandatory vaccines to mandatory euthanasia? I know hundreds of people who survived a long list of mandatory of vaccines….not sure anyone here can say the same of mandatory euthanasia.
It’s true that there are people with sincere religious and philosophical objections to vaccines, on top of the conspiracy theories, the debunked MMR autism link, exaggerated notions of the risks, or just a bit of “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) created by the anti-vaccine movements.
One downside with an absolute “no”, to vaccine mandates is that it can extend the amount of time people are made to stay confined to their homes, be it general lockdowns and restrictions, or the possibility that people with medical risks and the handicapped may remain confined to the home long after normal life is back for the majority.
Contrary to the image of vaccine mandates as always and ever this highly communal policy that accepts some compromise of individual rights for common good, there has always existed a liberty loving case for mandatory vaccination. Surely, Covid-19 has made that painfully apparent.
As for concerns about IT tech? Frankly, “1984” was a red herring and a very implausible tyranny. There exist valid concerns about privacy due to the technology and its oversight in general and during this pandemic in particular. That said, I see the restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of worship as much, much more troubling, than any of these privacy concerns. Of course, beyond just questions of personal freedom, a lot of political organizing is dependent on social networks and various groups of friends. How well such things can be maintained on Zoom for more than a few months is an open question.
Hi Willie, What many people don’t understand, and what you touched upon, is that human rights are not all complimentary to one another. They do not all stack up in a neat little row. In fact, very often we have a situation where rights are actually competing with one another, and a decision has to be made on which right is the most fundamental and supersedes other competing right(s).
As a few obvious examples: There is a religious strain (I forget the name they go under) that totally opposes any form of medical intervention on the grounds of “God’s will” or some other such bollocks. In my view, a sick adult certainly has the right to refuse medical intervention on behalf of themselves, but do they have the right to refuse it on behalf of their sick child? I would argue NO, they certainly do not. I take the same view on inoculations. (I must admit, remembering back to my schooldays, when lining up for the nurse to administer injections was such an accepted part of life, I thought basic inoculations WERE compulsory in the UK. But apparently not.)
Possibly the most misunderstood, and certainly the most abused, human right is the right to free expression (or “free speech” as it’s more commonly known). Fanatics tend to think, or more likely PREtend to think, that this gives them (or should give them) the right to say anything about anybody or any thing. So they happily publicly denigrate entire communities, races, religions etc on the grounds of free speech. What they won’t accept is that freedom of expression must have its limitations. They (we) have to be held to account for the consequences of what we say publicly. On a broader front, should I have the right, under freedom of expression, to wander through a Jewish neighbourhood wearing Nazi regalia? Of course not.
The most obvious competing rights are those regarding pregnancy terminations, between the rights of the mother and those of the unborn child. I know it’s cliched, but I still take the view that as a man, I don’t really have the right to dictate to women on this issue. That’s not to say I shouldn’t have a view, but rather that my view as a man should be secondary to that of women. With that in mind, I am strongly of the view (in line with the view of a majority of women here and in most other liberal democracies) that a woman should have the right to decide on whether or not to terminate her pregnancy within the limited time period set by law (12 weeks, or later in exceptional circumstances).
I suspect we’ll differ on at least some of this. But, as always, we’ll differ politely.
Willie first of all the anti mask marchers are capitalising on peoples fears (it s very machiavellian).. These particular group of anti maskers stand for murdering doctors that perform abortions, ethnic cleansing ( they say theyll ask them to leave but thats not how it works), and are anti gay. So this is how actual proper fascism seems to capitalise on peoples fears.. Yes I understand your fears but as was already expressed its the actual corporations that have had and do have surveillance on you for many years (ref the social dilemna and Shoshona zuboff surveillance capitalism). Fb knows if your sad, angry going on a date and plitical persuasions.. but what is odd though is that ytubs algorithms can lead you from healthy living vids to qanon or other right wing conspiracy theories or just far right politics.
In reference to mandatory vaccinations well I can only speak from Ireland s perspective and its even been said by our previous health minister that it would be almost impossible to introduce mandatory vacs because of our constitution anyway.. I would also say that the vacs conspiracy theories have been debunked. My own brother lost his hearing due to the mumps and I have family members and friends who ve had polio ( these are non existant anymore basically).
In reference to the free speech debate well I think its pretty much a myth to say we have free speech.
In respect of Ireland, and doubtless the same applies elsewhere, the leading lights behind the anti-mask protests are known to most of us (even to me, in the North), if only by reputation and their previous public utterances. They are exactly as Paul describes. Let’s just say if these clowns ever attain positions where they can dictate societal norms, then God help us all.
Thankfully we don’t have free speech, in the sense that self-styled “libertarians” interpret that to mean. Minorities of all stripes have enough abuse to contend with (and the violence and discrimination that often flows directly from that) under the present system, where there are at least some legal boundaries in place. Imagine what it would be like in an absolutist scenario. There is a spurious argument often made or hinted at that says the wider public can be trusted to have enough sense to separate the bullshit from the real (where news is concerned) and to separate the bad from the good (where verbal attacks on minority groups is concerned). Where oh where in the entire history of our species is there evidence to support that contention? Against the mountains of evidence to support the exact opposite contention.