04
Jun
15

A Marxist response to Noreen Murphy’s letter to the Examiner

On Tuesday 2 June a letter in the Irish Examiner appeared under the title “Non-payment of water charges will just force more debt on people” (http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/yourview/non-payment-of-water-charges-will-just-force-more-debt-on-people-334052.html)

As the author, Noreen Murphy, is the most ardent and loyal supporter of Right2Water in the Cork anti-water charges movement it is quite instructive about the politics of Right2Water.

Noreen’s letter was edited by the Examiner which included taking out a point that her defenders are saying is proof of her arguments being misrepresented.

That point was “On a point of principle, I will personally never pay for water…” This is the only difference of any substance between Noreen’s original (copied here) and the published version.

Noreen goes on to argue (in both original and published versions) that:

“‘non-payment’ will neither prevent more debt being piled on the Irish people, nor prevent the privatisation of our water and waste water services”.

What is the conclusion to be drawn from such an argument (irrespective of her personal “point of principle”)?

In the propaganda war for the hearts and minds of working people over non-payment what effect will this have? Will it encourage people wavering to pay or not to pay? The answer is quite clear.

If she is right and non-payment has no possible positive outcomes and instead will only result in fines for non-payment then what would be the point of not paying for those who don’t see the issue as one of personal principle?

We should presumably instead put all our energies into getting a new government elected that will hopefully remove the charges as part of its “progressive” management of the capitalist system.

In one way it is good to see Noreen be so open about the real logic of the R2W position – but it is one that anti-water charges activist must reject. While non-payment may not be the only answer it is clearly an important part of the answer in our fight against water charges.

Noreen also claims that “The Right2Water campaign has given a voice to hundreds of thousands of people…”

Actually Right2Water is only one part of the anti-water charges movement. The continual conflating of R2W with the whole movement by R2W acolytes like Noreen is extremely annoying not to say disrespectful to the tens of thousands of activists all over the country who have participated in opposing the installation of water meters and support non-payment – neither of which R2W has played any part in organising.

I also find it very patronising to be told that an undemocratic, self-appointed and unanswerable steering committee (which is all R2W actually is) has been the thing that has given working people a voice. Working people have a voice because we have spoken and acted in our communities up and down the country.

Then there is Noreen offering up the fantasy of some kind of political third way – “Podemos and Syriza are offering a balanced alternative to the extremist right or left…” – as if the irreconcilable interests of the capitalists and working people could be resolved simply by appealing for some “balance”. There is no “balance” possible within capitalism – it is a system based on the exploitation and oppression of working people for the benefit of the tiny minority who rule us.

Their “policy principles” document makes it clear that R2W only see the struggle of working people within the framework of capitalism. This is effectively advising us to limit our dreams for a better future to how many crumbs we might gather from the table of the fat cats as they continue to gorge themselves on the fruits of our labour.

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2 Responses to “A Marxist response to Noreen Murphy’s letter to the Examiner”


  1. 1 Luke
    June 8, 2015 at 10:32

    Interesting left cover for the “Marxist” who, while opposing the conservative, electoralist, anti-boycott wing of the water charges movement in words here, is actively linking up with the same conservative, electoralist, anti-boycott forces to bureaucratically expel the left / pro-boycott forces in the campaign in Cobh — in what effectively amounts to a which hunt against the left (at the centre of which is a young single mother who has been a leading member of the campaign in Cobh from the outset).

    To bureaucratically move to expel those who have political differences is disgraceful in any circumstances — when political disagreements should be decided trough debate and democratic decisions — but when the disagreements are sharply posed in the form of an overriding divide (in the wider movement at this point) between the militant, left forces on one side and the conservative right forces on the other, it is the only the most craven political hacks who could stoop to such abhorrent, undemocratic methods.

    And you can be sure that your former comrades in Workers Hammer will be given a detailed report of how the IBT supporter operates in the anti-austerity movement in Ireland.

    • July 5, 2015 at 10:13

      Apologies for not approving this comment earlier.

      I can see how this could be seen as a witch-hunt against the left to people outside Cobh who hadn’t been involved in actual campaign and seen and experienced Ciara’s disruptive and divisive behaviour.

      This was never about expelling anyone for their political views but rather for their personal behaviour – most of which occurred months before the idea of joining the AAA, or even seeing herself as any kind of leftist, had occurred to Ciara.

      Just a point of clarification in that Ciara was a leading activist in Cobh Says No to Austerity after she joined the campaign at the end of last year. However this is a good few years after the “outset”.

      I am not sure what your comment about my “former comrades in Workers Hammer” refers to as I have never been a member of the Spartacist League – but still it is on a par with the rest of your ill-informed points.


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