A new group made up of various far-left organisations is formally launching today in order to campaign against Ireland’s “far right”.
“LeCheile” is made up, as you might guess, of all the usual suspects: The National Women’s Council, The Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Sinn Fein, The Union of Students in Ireland, Gaza action Ireland, The Dublin Lesbian Line and loads of others. You can find a full list here.
This is what they say:
“As organisations and individuals, we have come together to challenge the growth of the far-right, who in recent months have begun to organise in our communities and on our streets across Ireland, North and South.
We commit to building a movement for a society based on the principles of real social solidarity and economic justice and recognise that the unity of working people, the marginalised and oppressed, regardless of colour, creed, gender, cultural background or sexual orientation is the key to achieving a better future for all.
We recognise that a new wave of far-right politics, emboldened by the toxic rhetoric of Trump in the US, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Orban in Hungary, Duterte in the Philippines, is a dangerous threat that, if unchallenged, will divide and weaken working people and all who believe in social justice, equality and freedom.”
My colleague Gary Kavanagh has an astute observation:
There’s something else worth noting, as well: The so-called far right, nutty as they regularly are, are nutty on their own dime. This campaign against them, though, uses a considerable number of dimes provided by the taxpayer. A quick count of the 48 organisations involved reveals that at least half of them are taxpayer funded, often to a significant degree.
And those that are not taxpayer funded are, very simply, far-left extremists. Extinction Rebellion, for example, is a member of this campaign against “far right extremism”. But Extinction Rebellion is a group that is wholly committed to overthrowing capitalism and reversing economic growth. This isn’t a campaign to tackle extremism – it’s a campaign to rebrand extremism on the left.
And how do they define the far right? The simple answer is that they do not.
But we know, for example, that one of the taxpayer funded organisations involved – the National Women’s Council – signed up to a letter written by one of the other taxpayer funded organisations involved – the Transgender Equality Network – just last week, which called for people who “defend biology” to be “denied representation”.
It’s hard to define the far right, in fairness, when defending biology makes you a suspected holder of far-right views.
The usual characteristics of far right regimes are easy enough to define: Extreme authoritarianism; a relentless focus on the supposed enemy, or fifth column, in our midst; public displays of conformity and loyalty to the cause; flags flying everywhere; and regular public denouncings of unbelievers and heretics.
And in Ireland’s far left, you can find all of those things, almost everywhere you look. They are committed to introducing laws to criminalise thought and speech, for example. They are, as today’s new group demonstrates, relentlessly focused on a small, apparent enemy in our midst – the “far right”. There are regular public demonstrations to build loyalty to the cause. The rainbow flag, which has been adopted as their own, flies from nearly every public building. Those who question the cause even for a moment – like Roisin Ingle last week – are subject to public denouncing and shaming.
Even the name – “Le Cheile” – espouses the idea of being part of a collective, national movement. You’re with us, Le Cheile, or you’re against us.
And these organisations do not target the actual far right. They target, by and large, ordinary people. The person who opposes carbon taxes is relentlessly targeted as a Climate Denier by Extinction Rebellion. The person who opposes Gender Quotas is targeted as a sexist by the Women’s Council. The person who opposes transgender ideology is denounced as a Transphobe by TENI.
But mainly, they target politicians, who hand them over vast sums of taxpayer money every year in what has become a political protection racket. If that money were to be cut, the politician who cut it would be denounced as a sexist, transphobic, bigoted climate denier for “targeting organisations working on these important issues”.
These groups have become a cancer at the heart of Irish society. You can count me out.