STILLE NACHT – Christmas 1914
I'm reminded today of a song written by a good friend of mine, Cormac MacConnell, about an incident that happened 100 years ago, Christmas Day 1914, in what would come to be known as the First World War.
From a section of the miles of trenches that faced each other in the mud and blood of The Western Front came a voice, a German voice, singing Stille Nacht – Silent Night – and from that song came one of the most poignant moments of that terrible war, a ceasefire declared by the soldiers themselves.
One by one, tentatively at first but then in greater numbers, the soldiers emerged from the trenches and as they approached each other, bearing what little they had as gifts, they could have been approaching a mirror.
Because what they saw was themselves, the same people, the same miners, farmers, factory-workers coming from the same families with the same stories of subjugation, the same struggle for basic rights in their own countries, and not in fact the butchers and animals each had been led to believe of the other through their respective war propaganda machines.
A day later they were back to slaughtering each other with bomb, bullet, bayonet, and the High Command of both armies made sure such a meeting of minds wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t.
100 YEARS LATER, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Well there is another world war going, a global war, more and more of the world’s assets and wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few. Think about recent events in this country.
The imposition of the Property Tax;
The imposition of the Water Charge;
The Universal Social Charge;
The pillaging of billions from our National Pension Reserve Funds AND from people’s own private pension funds;
The imposition of the bank debt;
The myriad misery-inducing cuts to public services;
The gradual erosion of hard-won employment rights – on and on and on;
All adding up to the impoverishment of a nation and its people;
All adding up to decades of debt-slavery.
None of this is accidental, all of this is being facilitated by legislators
LAW AS A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION
There is a different weapon being used in this global war. No longer is it bomb, bullet, bayonet; now it’s the law being used against us. Law is what enables this transfer of assets and wealth to the few at an accelerating rate, law is what disables our ability to fight back, our right to fight back, and as those laws are enacted, laws that enslave us to debt, we’re then told ‘YOU MUST OBEY - IT’S THE LAW! THIS IS A DEMOCRACY!’
But of course it’s not democracy, not here, not in the EU, not in the USA; in fact in most so-called democratic countries across the world now what we actually have is a mockery of democracy.
THE GREED GODS
Greed is what rules in the world today, greed fed by money and profit. The Markets, the Too Big To Fail banks and global corporations, they are the ones in charge, they are the ones dictating policy to governments who then use their position to make the laws enforcing those diktats on the people.
It’s all too easily done of course. All you have to do is capture the key decision-makers, the primary legislators, and the rest – the secondary legislators, the back-benchers if you like – simply follow on, whipped into line.
Even the capture of the primary legislators is all too easy. There are two main methods – corruption and fear. Either the primary legislators are bought off – campaign contributions, benefit in kind, post-politics prime board positions, or simply cash – or they are terrified into agreement by threatened dire consequences if they don’t to as instructed.
The secondary legislators? We’ve seen for ourselves the circus our Dáil has become, the Laurel and Hardy act of Jerry Buttimer and Jim Daly when we in the Ballyhea campaign had a Private Member’s Bill introduced by the Technical Group in November 2013 for the government to just ask the ECB to allow the destruction of the Promissory Notes bonds. In what has become all-too-familiar from the government benches, Messrs Buttimer and Daly totally ignored the actual motion itself, proceeded to expound on matters that weren’t at all being proposed, then went on to use the privilege of the chamber to denigrate us, tittering away at their own juvenile jokes.
We saw the circus to even greater effect on the night of the Promissory Notes ‘deal’, when Minister Michael Noonan landed future generations with debt they never incurred but debt we and they will be paying for the next 40 years, the drunken cavorting in the Dáil chamber as the people were sold out.
And we saw it again in the last few weeks in what – laughably – was presented as the Water Charge ‘debate’.
GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA, MEDIA PRESSTITUTES
As for the propaganda war, it’s endemic, not just all around us but in among us.
In Europe we have German pitted against Greek, Irish pitted against German and so on – nationalism again being whipped up, raising its poisonous head.
We have white pitted against black against yellow against brown;
We have left and all its –isms turned on itself, then pitted against right;
We have Catholic pitted against Protestant against Jew against Muslim against Hindu;
We have native pitted against immigrant;
We have employed against unemployed;
We have private sector against public sector;
We even have man pitted against woman.
But if we turn and look at each other here today, if we look beneath the skin, as was the case 100 years ago on the Western Front all we still see is our own reflection. Because regardless of height, weight, colour, creed, gender, religion, we are all members of the same race – the human race.
We don’t all look the same, we don’t all think the same, we don’t all act the same but under the skin runs the same red blood, beats the same human heart.
WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, ALL OF US.
But there are those few who would dehumanise us,
Those who would have us as mere chattel,
As worker bees slaving in their hives
And then at the other end,
As mindless consumers
Succumbing to the endless advertising from all their media outlets,
Promoting infinite growth in what is a finite world.
Who are they?
They are the same greedy few who 100 years ago sent those same men from nations right across Europe into those trenches to die in their millions;
They are the controllers.
Theirs today is still the propaganda of division and of hate,
of fascism and of rampant nationalism;
They are the ones who would now again have us at each other’s throats.
THEY are the enemy.
So what do we do?
We unite. And we fight. We park all our petty differences – because petty they all are – and we fight. We fight to get those legislators who made those laws to change those laws. And if they don’t, we fight to change the legislators.
In a true democracy, law reflects the will of the people; it is for the people, by the people. It is our will. In our own history though we know how law can be abused, how law HAS been abused not just to bypass the will of the people, but to subjugate. In our own history too however, we never gave up the fight to overturn those laws.
This time though, it’s got to be peaceful; just as those now still doing the oppressing have become more subtle in their actions, so too must we become more subtle in our campaign.
Go back to the propaganda machine we’re facing:
We all saw how the government and its spinners portrayed the protests of the last few months, the demonising, the talk of sinister elements, the scare-mongering about the threat of violence, the deployment of the militarised elements of the Gardaí. We’ve seen also how the Gardaí have been deployed in the water meter protests, the attempt to drive a wedge between us.
But think back to 1914, to that Christmas. The gun fodder back then, the foot-soldiers – were they the sons of those who were ordering and directing that war? Were they hell.
Now ask yourself about the rank-and-file Gardaí – whose sons and daughters are they, whose brothers and sisters, whose fathers and mothers, whose cousins and friends? Are they the enemy?
So no, we don’t need violence on our streets, we don’t need destruction of property in our towns and cities.
But we do need destruction;
Destruction of the kind of laws and policies that have led us to this,
Destruction of the kind of governance that has led us to this,
Demolition of this mockery of democracy.
For that, we’re going to need be strong, we’re going to need to be steadfast, and we’re going to need to be stubborn.
In this group, after 200 weeks on the march, I think we’ve already proved – we meet all those criteria.
THREE CHANTS TO FINISH –
BURN THE BONDS, NOT THE BILLIONS
BURN THE BONDS, NOT THE BILLIONS
BURN THE BONDS, NOT THE BILLIONS