Editorial from Irish Political Review, July 2009
The New Bourgeois Revolution
In a by-gone era the middle class of developing capitalism sometimes took a stand against the feudal system and acquired leadership of the mass of a society—of the nation.
During the past year there have been signs of a bourgeois revolution of a different kind—in Thailand and in Iran.
In Thailand the urban middle class rebelled against the Government elected by the general population and overthrew it. Its case was not that the election was rigged, but that the mass of the population was too ignorant and backward to elect a tolerable government.
There is nothing new in this argument. It is only the historic case against democracy. The difference is that in the past it was an argument against enfranchising the populace. But now it has to be made against populations that have been generally enfranchised in accordance with the ideology of the United Nations.
There doesn't seem to be any real doubt that Ahmadinejad won the Presidential election in Iran. The "rigged election" slogan was dropped very quickly. The anti-Ahmadinejad ideologues in the Western media (with the famous Islamophobe Martin Amis to the fore) had no real interest in the balance of votes cast. Their essential case was that he had no right to win because he was an affront to progress. He acted in the interest of the masses of ignorant peasants and workers while the cause of progress requires that the state be conducted by the middle class that has been generated in the cities thirty years after the Revolution.
There is some similarity with the situation in Eastern Europe twenty years ago. But, whereas Communist Party ideology collapsed and left the middle class free to accomplish what it took to be its destiny—which turns out to be a pretty miserable destiny—the ideology of Islam is durable.
A closer parallel is with the pretentious middle class element that evolved within the Fianna Fail national development, became Irish Times readers, hated the society in which they had grown, and have been looking for ways of breaking it up.
The USA has been probing the Iranian State for cracks during the past generation. It put a lot of effort into cultivating Azairi separatism. For a while it thought this would be a winner. But, when Mousavi played the Azairi Card in the election, it proved to be a dud.
RTE has of course borrowed its language, and therefore its thought, from the BBC. Ahmadinejad is a "hardliner". 'Hardline' is an adjective which is meaningless without a noun which it qualifies. But, while it says nothing, it sounds bad.
De Valera was, of course, a hardliner when he acted in the national interest against the Treaty in the 1930s, while the Fine Gael moderates went Fascist in support of the Treaty.
The vendetta was a kind of justice. It was replaced for a while by the criminal law process of the state. It is now being restored in the Northern Ireland region of the British State, where everything is debased.
The Government thought it knew who was responsible for the Omagh bombing, but did not have the evidence to prove it. So it suggested to the relatives of the victims that they should bring a civil action for damages against the people they though were responsible.
Civil actions are private actions between individuals facilitated by the Courts. Cases do not need to be proved, as in criminal prosecutions. The civil action brought against the people the Government thought were responsible for the Omagh bombing was over a criminal matter, but the standard of evidence required for it was what was appropriate to matter that was not criminal.
To prosecute an individual for a crime, presentable evidence is needed. The notorious miscarriages of justice during the last forty years, which led to individuals spending many years in prison, show that the standard of evidence needed for successful criminal prosecutions is not impossibly high.
The standard for civil actions is very much lower, because these have to do with mere conflicts between individuals. And all that is needed for starting a civil action is money. If you have the money you can go to law over anything.
What has happened over the Omagh Bombing is that the distinction between criminal law and civil law has been deliberately blurred by the State. The blurring was set in motion by Lord Mandelson. He floated the idea. He backed it with money. And he got the BBC to conduct appeals for money, thinly disguised as news programmes.
We, the public, were given to understand—in the way that these things are done in Northern Ireland—that the reason the Government could not bring a criminal prosecution was also the reason why it knew exactly who was responsible for the bombing: i.e., it had an agent close to the bombings. This agent would be exposed in a criminal prosecution. And it could also emerge that the Government had prior information about the bombing and might have stopped it—or even that it had some part in messing up the warning about the bomb.
Some of the victims' relatives probed these matters a few years ago, and got very angry with the guardians of law and order as well as with the bombers. But they were persuaded by the Government to pursue the matter as a personal vendetta. And now, after a private action, the details of which were scarcely reported—as befitted something that should never have happened—they have had some vengeance.
Vengeance is the justice of the vendetta. It is not absent from the justice dispensed by the state in accordance with 'due process', but it is sublimated into the appearance of something else.
Michael Gallagher, one of the relatives bereaved by the bombing, gave a press conference after the verdict. This is from the Channel 4 report:
"Reporter (Carl Dinnen): These people have waited to hear a British judge name any of the men responsible for killing their loved ones. Today they heard just that from Mr. Justice Morgan at Belfast High Court.
Michael Gallagher: It's tremendous. I think that was better than we could ever have expected. I think we have sent a message to terrorists that you know, from now on, you don't need to worry about the authorities. The families of those victims will come after you.
Reporter: Is this any kind of Justice?
Gallagher: It's certainly not Justice that can put people behind bars. But it sends a very strong message that we as families do have some power, that we do have the ability to hit back at terrorism."
Godfrey Wilson, relative of another victim of the bombing, said:
"You can't have 31 innocent people murdered on a street on the 15th of August and nobody brought to justice. Terrorism is getting away with murder."
Jason McCue, solicitor for the victims' families, was asked: "Have you set a precedent here today?" He replied:
"We certainly have. It's the first time anywhere in the world that ordinary individuals who are the victims who are the victims of terrorism have won. And proved their case."
The ITV news put it like this:
"The Judge said that the Real IRA leader… and three other men were behind the bombing which killed 29 people… No one has ever been convicted in a criminal Court, but today relatives of the victims won a landmark civil action…
After a much criticised police investigation no one is behind bars for the loss these people suffered. But today Justice, if not done, was at least seen to be done."
(In some reports the number killed in the bombing was given as 31 and in others as 29. That arose from a difference of opinion over the unborn, whether they are human beings and killing them is murder.)
Reports of the case all suggested that the civil action was brought about by self-help of the victims after the Government had failed. In fact it was instigated and facilitated by the Government—by Lord Mandelson trying to be popular for once—and it is unlikely that it would have got very far but for Government actively supporting it behind the scenes.
If it proves to be a precedent, and if the state increasingly relinquishes Justice to the private sphere, then we are on the way back to the old Irish system of the Brehon Laws where killings were compensated for by fines. But, despite all the hype it was given, we doubt if it will be a precedent. It is just one of those peculiar things that the British Government does in the Northern Ireland region of its state.
The Omagh Bombing was generally described as the worst atrocity of the Troubles. It wasn't. The worst atrocity was the Dublin/Monaghan Bombing of May 1974. No one was ever convicted of that. It is known, in the way that responsibility for the Omagh Bombing is known, that it was the work of Ulster Loyalist paramilitaries acting in collusion with some part of the British security apparatus. Because of the strong suspicion of British involvement, the Dublin Government of the time—in which Garret FitzGerald and Conor Cruise O'Brien had special responsibility for the North—were eager not to investigate it. The families of those victims kept up pressure on the Government to find out who did it. A kind of Investigation was conducted a few years ago, but Fianna Fail was no more interested in pursuing the matter than Fine Gael and Labour were at the time. And those relatives have not been enabled to launch a civil action.
"We know that no matter how many fall each life tells a unique story and each death diminishes us all". That is, of course, the right thing to say. Who said it?
Condoleeza Rice, about the World Trade Centre Victims. Condoleeza must have been vastly diminished as a consequence of all the unique lives that she caused to fall. But she didn't let it show.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan addressed the British Labour Party Conference on 1st October 2003. He said he met a man who had 7 of his ten children killed in an attack on his house because the Coalition forces suspected that a fleeing Taliban group had hidden in it. That man was later invited to a dinner attended by Karzai. Karzai was apprehensive lest he should be resentful over the loss of his family. But, instead of that, he said he would willingly see the rest of his family killed by the invading Coalition, as long as they died in the course of making Afghanistan free.
That was six years ago. The Coalition forces are still busily freeing Afghanistan from the Taliban, who are increasingly indistinguishable from the population of Afghanistan—and are increasingly using themselves as 'human shields'? Any sizeable group of Afghans seems to be a legitimate target for the Coalition bombers, and many wedding parties have been wiped out. And Karzai has long since stopped saying that Afghans are strange people who don't mind having their families wiped out. He protests.
If you are an Afghan whose family has been destroyed by the Coalition, who do you take civil action against? Perhaps against members of the same Government that instigated and facilitated the civil action against the suspected Omagh Bombers.
But the Coalition forces do not intentionally wipe out innocent wedding parties? Maybe not. But they behave so recklessly that too much weight can easily be attached to their intentions.
The Omagh Bombers did not intend to kill anyone. They had carried out a number of bombings in protest against the Agreement—bombings in which nobody was killed— and there is no credible suggestion that the Omagh killings were intentional. That is why the part played by the Government's agent in the affair made it too delicate for criminal prosecution, and caused it to encourage the vendetta procedure.
Is This All There Is.
Elections And Realities.
Sarkozy Visit To Ireland (Reader's Letter).
A Bit Of Northern Ireland History.
Back To The Present.
Another Sermon From Fintan.
1916—Ireland's Original Sin?
Recipe For An Albion Meat Pie (Poem)
Shorts from the Long Fellow.
Tariq Aziz (Poem)
Coolacrease And Joost Augusteijn
Did Redmond Reconquer West Cork In 1916?
The Rise Of Left Liberalism
Thoughts On The Elections.
The Perfect Mutiny: The Curragh 1914.
Judicial Swipes, Part Two (Biteback).
Does It Stack Up?
Reply From Mercier Press.
MI5 And The Omagh Bomb—Report Of John Hanley Article
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