Cochonism

We studied Animal Farm at school, and part of our GCSE coursework was to write a continuation of it. I recall that lots of the kids in the class wrote accounts of how Snowball came back, pulled together all the other animals, and kicked Napoleon’s ass, and then all the animals lived happily ever after. I, on the other hand -oh jesus this is embarrassing- wrote a tortuous account of how things took a turn for the better when another pig -I can’t remember the name I assigned him- with a distinctive purple blotch on his ear introduced a series of liberalising reforms, including opening up lines of co-operation with other farms, and then all the animals lived happily after. This was around the time Russia was undergoing its neo-liberal shock therapy, seeing massive increases in poverty, organised criminality and capital flight, to which I must have been rather oblivious. I had rejected the embryonic Trotskyism of my classmates for…embryonic Jeffrey Sachsism. None of which is all that important, I fear. But it came to mind when I read this Martina Devlin piece this morning. I know you’re not supposed to take these things seriously, but what can I say, I’m a nidiot.

It made me wonder: how much of a latent inclination is there toward communism in this country? Devlin takes the pigs of AIB to task for operating according to the corrupt Stalinist insertion of ‘…but some are more equal to others’. In order for this criticism to work, the notion that ‘all animals are equal’ has to bear some sort of legitimacy. So if AIB are giving a pay rise of 3pc, then that is contrary to the principle that ‘all animals are equal’ because no animal should be receiving a pay rise. Not, of course, that I think Martina Devlin is a communist: far from it. Indeed, it is entirely in the ruling class interest, albeit in a blatantly stupid manner, to propose that all Irish citizens are equally responsible or equally affected in the jaws of recession-cum-depression. Because by proclaiming that there is equality where there is none, the effect is the consolidation of existing unequal relations. However, it is worth recognising that these demands on the part of ruling class interest for ‘equality’ are on account of the fact that lots of people are concerned with equality. A couple of weekends ago I was at a conference in which various people expressed frustration about the selfish nature of Irish people. But in the depths of this recession we are surrounded by verbiage about sharing the burden equally, acting in the common good, in a public spirited manner, and so on. If people were really only motivated by narrow self-interest, this sloganeering would have no traction. It is precisely because a substantial people are not generally selfish that so many spokespeople for ruling class interest can get away so shamelessly with all these appeals to equality, or the ‘national interest’. There is certainly a huge gap between egalitarian communism and the formal appearance of equality based solely on citizenship, and I do not see the country falling to the communists tomorrow. Nonetheless I think that notions such as ‘equality’ and the ‘national interest’ are being monopolised by ruling class lackeys (if you will pardon my Lenin), and are going uncontested at the minute, and there is an opportunity for fighting back on precisely these grounds.

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