Séamus McDonagh – a left social-democrat stands in the Meath East by-election

Séamus McDonagh claims “to stand in opposition to this political system as a socialist and community activist” – http://seamusmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/what-seamus-mcdonagh-stands-for/

While the second of these self-descriptions is no doubt true the first is not as the programme he outlines clearly shows.

While he places himself on the side of working people and the oppressed McDonagh does this explicitly in the context of the continuation of the capitalist system.

He wants “the development of the public infrastructure of the state” (that is the existing capitalist state) so that “the economy can be stabilised and employment created” (that is the existing capitalist economy).

While he stands against privatisation of public services he doesn’t even call for nationalisation, let alone expropriation, of any of the capitalist economy that is the cause of the exploitation of working people. His alternative to the attacks on working people under the guise of “austerity” is a Financial Transaction Tax and an increase in Corporation Tax. Curiously he doesn’t raise the call for a Wealth Tax on the super-rich like many of his reformist brethern in Ireland currently do.

To his credit he does call for the repudiation of the €64 billion bank debt but as this is posed within the overall context of the continuation of capitalism it is difficult to see how it can be taken seriously as a demand.

There is of course nothing about the need for self-organisation of the working class, opposition to the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state or establishing workers’ power. Instead he pines for a classless democracy free from the “bullying tactics” of the “powerful elites” – as if bourgeois democracy has ever offerred working people anything else.

In short his programme is a reformist fantasy of a capitalism that can be made to work in the interests of working people.

While it would of course be possible for revolutionary socialists to participate alongside McDonagh in specific campaigns in defence of working people it would be a serious mistake to give him critical electoral support on the basis of this programme.

The SWP opportunists, in the form of Richard Boyd-Barrett, have of course pledged their support to McDonagh while the SP and the new United Left have yet to make their position known as far as I can tell.


1 Response to “Séamus McDonagh – a left social-democrat stands in the Meath East by-election”

  1. March 21, 2013 at 21:13

    Discussion on this on cedarlounge – only reinforcing my position of not giving critical support to the WP in this by-election – http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/left-tds-and-councillors-call-for-vote-for-seamus-mcdonagh-in-meath-east-by-election/#comment-159078

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