Using the Instruments of Fear Can Backfire


“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear…” So wrote the great New England writer H. P. Lovecraft, way back in 1926.  And although our corrupt government leaders may not be familiar with the author, they are surely more than familiar with the sentiment.

Having realised after Saturday’s anti-water charges attendance – and it was a truly extraordinary turn-out considering that it was the fourth Dublin march since October; plus it took place against the background of an important Rugby fixture – that this issue was simply not going to go away, our resident Dail gougers and bully-boys changed tactics once again.

Even they must be finding it hard to remember what they are supposed to be offering us these days – the carrot or the stick?  Or perhaps a little bit of both, since neither is actually working?

I must say to anyone whose enthusiasm for this most important of fights is waning, that I hope you took renewed vigour and energy from the sight of more than 80,000 people demonstrating peacefully last weekend.  For myself, when we reached O’Connell Street to find large screens playing a selection of lies fed to us by our leaders over the years, accompanied by the thrilling soundtrack to James Cameron’s film Judgement Day, it was one of those ‘hair-standing-on-the-neck’ moments.

That was followed by a number of speakers, some of whom I could take or leave, to be honest with you.  There’s a lot of bandwagon-jumping going on these days with people who wouldn’t have given us the time of day six months ago.

Still, it was worth listening to a few of them if only to hear Ruth Coppinger, who to my mind gets more impressive every time I listen to her speak.  She is measured, reasonable and never shrill; and that’s something that I wish some of those who attempted to follow her would learn from.

And it has never been easy to keep momentum going with this movement.  At every turn anti-water protestors have been hindered not only by a tame RTE channel that more and more appears to be just an arm of the government (although even they were forced to give half-decent coverage on Saturday evening) but by a print media that has by and large toed the government line.

I’d like to say that for every Matt Cooper there was a Gene Kerrigan, but unfortunately that’s not quite true.  Luckily, one Gene Kerrigan is worth about ten average reporters.  Then of course there have been the anonymous – and they’re almost always anonymous – provocateurs who are on the internet on a daily basis, government-approved and spreading the false and laughable doctrine that every single protester is an unemployed scrounger.  All evidence is to the contrary, of course; but as we used to say in more innocent days, paper never refused ink.

Lovecraft finished his famous statement with “… and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

And so it wasn’t long before the increasingly appalling Alan Kelly was waving the big stick with great enthusiasm.  The money will be taken off us at source, he proclaimed.  And of course, that will frighten a lot of people.  Our government knows that fear and intimidation is what it has come down to, now.  That by attempting to terrorise people they may eventually wear them down.  And of course in many cases they will.  Just as a ‘for instance’, it couldn’t have been much fun to be 80 years old, perhaps living alone and with no access to the internet, to hear those threatening noises from those who are supposed to be our leaders.

And when you hear Enda Kenny coming out and backing Kelly yesterday, you realise that these creatures are actually proud that they can instil fear into some vulnerable individuals.  They actually see that as a result.

If I were a member of their families I would be ashamed of my very origins.  Ashamed.  But that’s just me.

To people like me, though, such threats make no difference:  they will have to go through every single step of dragging myself and like-minded tens of thousands to court; because to people like me it is no longer ‘simply’ about the water charges.  It is about refusing to be bullied; refusing to be lectured to by those who have neither ethics nor integrity. 

It is about refusing to accept that legislation can be suddenly ‘fast tracked’ in order to make life hell for ordinary people when no political will or backbone has ever been shown in ‘fast tracking’ dealings with the bankers who have run this country into the ground.

It is about just being fed up with cronyism and endless corruption and having to accept it as if it is normal.

It is about not being willing to take anymore.