Keeping the Church out of politics, except where it’s expedient

pope_benedict_350

If you’re doing the rounds of the second-hand bookshops and you come across Desmond Fennell’s Nice People and Rednecks, a collection of the great man’s Sunday Press columns from the 1980s, you could do worse than to pick it up. Des’ insights on Irish politics in the Age of Gubu haven’t aged all that badly, and some of them are strikingly relevant now.

Here’s Des writing circa 1983, apropos of a nakedly partisan campaign by Dublin liberals to pressure the Church into declaring membership of Sinn Féin to be sinful, including some aggressive media barracking of the late Cardinal Ó Fiaich:

For the past twenty years or so, since we opened the gates to consumer capitalism, there has been a sort of tacit pressure on the Catholic Church to make its teaching conform to the requirements of the secular power; and the Church has by and large collaborated. But this was the first occasion on which the demands of the secular power were expressed so openly, as if there were now a conscious intention to transform the Catholic Church in Ireland into something like the Anglican Church in England – a state church, a subordinate agency of public policy.

Gone are the days, if they ever really existed, when the secular power or liberals wanted churchmen to ‘keep out of politics’. Only some senile anti-clerical, or hillbilly Republican, would now be so naïve as to raise that slogan! During the past year and more, we have seen the frequent political interventions of the Protestant churches welcomed by the government and the media liberals with open arms, or rather, with awed prostrations. The Protestant churches have most acceptable views on the IRA/Sinn Féin, divorce, contraceptives, abortion, and so on. They want a secularist Ireland. The Taoiseach, the Labour Party, and the media liberals want the same; so naturally they are grateful when the Protestant churches call for secularism.

But the Catholic Church, too, is extremely welcome to intervene in politics, provided that it, too, says the right things. It has been active in condemning the IRA, while remaining silent about many related moral questions; and this has been appreciated. But now it must go further. It must say that divorce would not be a bad thing, and that it is sinful to be a member of Sinn Féin…

It would be something like the Italian Church, some years back, telling Italian Catholics it was immoral to support the Communist Party, or the Irish bishops, during the Civil War, excommunicating the Republicans. Or again, to take a fair analogy, it would be as if the Church, in the late 1920s or early ’30s, had declared it a sin to be a member of Fianna Fáil – for Fianna Fáil, and its leader de Valera, seemed every bit as impious to respectable Ireland in those days as Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams do now. Strange that the self-same people who tell us we have moved far from the bad old days when it was thinkable for the Church to do that sort of thing, should be urging that the Church do precisely that sort of thing now.

Well, Des has always been good at skewering the strange phenomenology of the Dublin liberal mind. But let’s leave behind the Ireland of FitzGerald and return to the Ireland of Cowen. Specifically, we have the Lisbon II referendum coming up in a matter of days. What brought Des’ old piece to mind was that, both prior to and following the defeat of Lisbon I, there were a lot of recriminations going around, and the Catholic Church was not missed out. I direct readers to this discussion during the campaign at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Affairs. Of particular interest is the intervention of Labour’s Joe Costello:

The media, and RTE in particular, are providing imbalanced coverage. The Labour Party launched its campaign on Sunday, subsequent to which Sinn Féin spokesperson, Ms Mary Lou McDonald, MEP, was interviewed and countered every argument put by the Labour Party. Yesterday Fianna Fáil launched its campaign and, again, Ms McDonald was allowed to make her criticisms. That is not balance, it is imbalance. A party with four Deputies is allowed to speak every time coverage is given to parties representing 180 Members. Surely it is time RTE considered the way in which it provides balanced coverage.

I love that because of the way Joe identifies “balance” with “reflecting the Leinster House consensus”, which is precisely the attitude that pisses people off, especially on the Europe issue. But immediately before that Joe stated:

Alive has some connection in that it is published by a religious order, the Dominicans in Tallaght, although I am not sure of the extent to which it has that order’s imprimatur. The literature is entirely politicised and one-sided. It is not religious. As I remarked at our last meeting, I picked up copies of Libertas literature in the Pro-Cathedral. Church leaders need to examine the literature being distributed within churches. The danger arises that ordinary church-goers will accept without question that the information is accurate and has the support of the church leadership.

Joe is here referring to the rambunctious little Catholic tabloid Alive!, which has been vociferously anti-Lisbon. Then and now, other elected representatives have expressed themselves along similar lines – demanding that the Catholic authorities take tough action against anti-Lisbon activism within the Church, or that the bishops should come out strongly in favour of Lisbon. This is precisely the sort of thing Des was talking about all those years ago. It’s not that the bishops shouldn’t intervene in politics, but that they should intervene on the right side.

Actually, on this issue, the transnational progressivists have little to fear from the institutional Church. The thing you have to realise in sociological terms is that, while the Catholic bishops are intimately linked to the Irish establishment, they’re also state bureaucrats – only not appointed by the Irish state but by the Vatican state. As a result, they toe the Vatican line on Europe as on other issues. And the Vatican line on the EU is cautiously positive – as enunciated by Pope Benny, and by JP2 before him, the Vatican has tended to view European integration as a great thing for world peace, while having reservations about the actually existing EU, particularly the untrammelled capitalism bit of it.

This is not an anti-EU stance by any means, but it’s a long way removed from the uncritical cargo-cult Europhilia of most of the Irish political-media-business strata. It means that, if you stick a microphone in front of a bishop, he’ll mumble something positive about Lisbon, but it’s not like the Catholic Church is going to come out and campaign for a Yes vote.

On the other hand, they do like to keep their hand in with the politicos. Most readers of this blog are probably not regular readers of the Irish Catholic, but that organ has been worth watching of late as it’s been doing a fair bit of the government’s job for it. For one thing, it’s been reassuring its readers that Lisbon will in no way put a question mark over Irish abortion laws. For another, it’s been lining up senior clergymen to get stuck into Cóir with gay abandon. In fact, bearing in mind all the republicans, communists and wife-swapping sodomites in the No camp, it’s striking that the Church honchos are more concerned about Cóir. Possibly the hierarchy are working on the theory that Irish political radicalism is pretty much on a Mickey Mouse level and doesn’t pose a realistic threat to the Church – after all, this is a country where most atheists won’t even admit they’re atheists but just join the Church of Ireland. A group of headbanging Catholic ultras, on the other hand, do represent a challenge to the hierarchy on their own turf, even if a numerically small challenge.

Perhaps this is something that we need to take into consideration. There’s a lazy mode of thought on the Irish left that assumes a community of interest, or at least a community of sentiment, between the institutional Church and whatever ultra tendencies pop up at the grassroots. But it ain’t necessarily so. Back when the Hibernian was a going concern, what immediately jumped out from its pages was its antagonism towards the institutional Church, and its frequent excoriations of the “useless” Irish bishops. In fact, these Catholic ultras were as uncompromising in their anti-clericalism as any member of the Irish Humanist Association – just anti-clerical in a different way.

Which calls into question the whole concept of “clericalism” as applied to these tendencies, although there isn’t an alternative descriptor readily to hand. As for secular liberals wanting the bishops to speak out in support of their favoured policies, well, here’s Des again:

The whole affair – which is really about party politics and pretends to be about morality – reeks of the most loathsome hypocrisy.

Yes it does.

43 Comments

  1. September 26, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    The Church is too much involved in politics…

  2. ejh said,

    September 27, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I don’t think it’s “the most loathsome” hypocrisy, it’s just that a certain sort of (to use the term in a general sense) liberal does tend to assume that the things they support are self-evidently good for everybody and should self-evidently be supported by all reasonable people. So not unnaturally they expect highly-influential and highly-educated people – in which category we can probably place the higher reaches of the Church – to agree with them. I don’t know that it’s even a hypocrisy so much as a seriously narrow perspective.

    Incidentally, did you catch Maria Farrell’s recent fan letter to Chris Patten on Crooked Timber? I nearly sent it to Private Eye.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Oh, I missed that. I’ll mosey on over to CT and have a look.

    Yes, the attitude that all reasonable people should support proposition X – or a whole set of propositions – is a bit of a liberal pitfall. You get a lot of this with the Decents, hence their attitude that anyone who disagrees with their shibboleth of the moment is just being wilfully reactionary, and is therefore a Bad Person.

  4. Bill Burns said,

    September 27, 2009 at 11:56 am

    For alternative descriptors, would “Ultramontanism” work?

  5. ejh said,

    September 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    The Protestant churches have most acceptable views on the IRA/Sinn Féin, divorce, contraceptives, abortion

    Would the last part of this have been true in 1983?

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    It has to be seen in the context of the referendum. It’s not that the Protestant churches were keen to have abortion legalised, but IIRC they were pretty strongly opposed to the amendment.

    • Dr. X said,

      September 28, 2009 at 4:52 pm

      Even though I was just 12 at the time of the abortion referendum, one thing that sticks in my mind is a piece on the Radio 2 news one day during the campaign when someone was quoted as saying that passing the amendment would mean a reversal of the trend towards an open and tolerant society that the 26 counties had been experiencing (allegedly) for several years before then.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    September 27, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    “Clericalism” in the anti-Lisbon campiagn? Surely not!

    For instance, the entirely objective “Gael Poll”, which last week got the anti EU nutters so excited…

    The blog to which I contribute (“Shiraz Socialist”) commented:

    “(The) poll presently being trumpeted by various anti-EU fanatics and fantasists (including the Morning Star), purporting to show “a massive surge in support for the no side“ in next week’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. According to the poll, 59 per cent of Irish voters now intend to vote “no” – a dramatic reversal of the results of all other polls to date.

    “The likes of Bill Cash, Ukip, the Morning Star and Sinn Fein have all hailed the poll, conducted by an outfit named Gael Poll. Today’s Guardian quotes Roger Jupp, the reputable Dublin pollster and chairman of the Association of Irish Market Research Organisations, thus: “This is a voodoo poll…It is quite extraordinary. My colleagues and I have been looking into this. I’ve never heard of these people (ie: Gael Poll).” According to the Graun, Jupp says the methodology is flawed and another analyist said that at best the survay might be regarded as a “straw poll.”

    “But more interesting is the nature of the organisation behind the “voodoo poll”, Gael Poll. The Graun says they call themselves “strong Catholic nationalists” and “Catholic researchers” who worked until last year at the Hibernian magazine, now closed.

    “Their leader, Gerry McGeough was once a convicted Provo IRA gunrunner, but has since broken with the Provos, to concentrate upon vigorous anti-EU campaigning, as well as (in the words of the Graun) his “far- right Irish nationalist, ultra-Catholic, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant“ views… in other words, the man’s as near as dammit a fascist.

    “And that’s the logic of the anti-EU campaign in a nutshell (or nutcase), folks. Let’s hope they’re well and truly clobbered next week.”

    You and your readers are welcome to comment.

  8. Mark P said,

    September 27, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Jim, I’m not sure why anyone would bother to engage with you on this issue when you clearly have no understanding of the actual lineup of social forces on the Lisbon issue in Ireland and no interest in acquiring one. Instead you seem to be content to spew out rubbish based entirely on your own sects analysis of British politics without bothering to engage with the debate as it exists in Ireland.

    You’ve every right to spew out rubbish of course, and some unkind people might even accuse you of being perhaps overly fond of that right, but really, people actually involved in the Lisbon debate here may well have other priorities at the moment.

  9. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    I second that. Except I’d add that Jim’s understanding of British politics is nothing to write home about – it just gets really embarrassing when he transfers it to Ireland.

  10. robert said,

    September 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I’m emotionally pro European – not just that but a full on federalist – United States of Europe, common foreign policy and defence the euro, the whole shebang. Provided it could be made democratic. I would vote Yes happily for a constitution based on the following principles

    a) decisions should be taken as close to those affected by them as possible i.e. federalism should mean devolution, not centralisation.

    b) all those taking decisions should be directly elected.

    Sadly that’s not the EU we have. The reality of Brussles is that it is a capitalist attack on democracy. It suits corrupt national governments fine well to do deals with the corporations in private and then turn round to their electorates and say Sorry this isn’t our fault it’s coming from Brussels there’s nothing we can do.

    The EU is a tool for market fundamentalist like Mandy and the rest of the corporate commissars trying to privatise everything in sight and destroy our farmers.

    But even supposing the Lisbon Treaty was entirely good news didn’t Ireland vote it down recently? Does anyone imagine that if the vote had gone the other way the political establishment would be having a second go? Their contempt for democracy is blatant. The arrogance of these people is breathtaking. It might be worth voting No just to teach them a lesson.

  11. Jim Denham said,

    September 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Mark P: (about me): “You clearly have no understanding of the actual lineup of social forces on the Lisbon issue in Ireland and no interest in acquiring one. Instead you seem to be content to spew out rubbish based entirely on your own sects analysis of British politics without bothering to engage with the debate as it exists in Ireland. ”

    …Followed up by “Splintered” himself: “I second that. Except I’d add that Jim’s understanding of British politics is nothing to write home about – it just gets really embarrassing when he transfers it to Ireland.”

    Well, comrades: please explain to me how, exactly, a “no” vote is progressive in Ireland, and how the anti-EU campaign is progressive in England…and how you like boing in he same camp as Catholic bigots, anti-abortionists, antigay bigots and a semi-fascist ex-Provo like Gerry McGeough ?

    • Neil said,

      September 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

      Well Jim, do you share regular tete a tete’s with Nicholas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, the European Round Table of Industrialists and leading figures in the European arms industry?

  12. Jim Denham said,

    September 27, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Neil: No;
    now, please, answer my qestion (#11).

    • Neil said,

      September 27, 2009 at 8:49 pm

      Exactly, see how simple it is to be on the same side for different reasons?

  13. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 27, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I quote my remarks from above:

    And the Vatican line on the EU is cautiously positive – as enunciated by Pope Benny, and by JP2 before him, the Vatican has tended to view European integration as a great thing for world peace, while having reservations about the actually existing EU, particularly the untrammelled capitalism bit of it.

    Hmm, the Vatican position seems to me to be rather similar to the AWL position. How does Jim like finding himself on the same side of the issue as reactionary clerics?

  14. Jim Denham said,

    September 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Spintred: you really are desperate now: as far as I know, the Vatican has not taken a position on the EU or the Lisbon treaty: well:*has* it?

    But Bill Cash, the BNP, the ultra-right of the Tory Party, Sin Fein and the semi-fascist Gerry McGeough have done. Every anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-iimigrant force, as well as the Catholic bigots, are opposed to the EU. How the hell can you live with youselves knowing that you’re on the side of that bunch of scum?

    And, anyway, Marxists, are for national integration. Even if carried out from “above” (ie: the “Bismarkian” route): you lot are, simply reactionaries – in *every* sense of the word.

  15. ejh said,

    September 27, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    How the hell can you live with youselves

    How indeed, Jim, how indeed.

    Did you ever consider getting a hobby?

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      September 27, 2009 at 9:20 pm

      ejh said:

      “How the hell can you live with youselves

      How indeed, Jim, how indeed.

      Did you ever consider getting a hobby?”

      But he has got a hobby, ejh. It involves calling people morally degenerate, on the internet.

      It’s not unusual

  16. Jim Denham said,

    September 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Yes, “ejh”: my hobby is promoting human progress and opposing reaction.

  17. ejh said,

    September 27, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    No, that’s your hobby horse. I was thinking of something along the lines of crochet, or making model aeroplanes.

  18. robert said,

    September 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    “Progressive” is right wing liberal speak for politically correct attacks on democracy. Instead of persuading the majority of your fellow citizens to be less hostile to gays etc by doing the hard graft of arguing your case let’s get some elite judge or commissioner in Brussels or Strasbourg to impose new laws on them regardless.

    Anyone who has a different philosophy or who is culturally alienated from Dublin 4 or Islington must be a reactionary by definition or they would get with the program

    Liberals are all in favour of democracy, except when the proles vote the wrong way. This whole second referendum reminds me of Brechts poem about the people losing the confidence of the government. Time for the government to dissovle the people and elect another!

  19. Moreno Truth Kit said,

    September 28, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Jim “level-headed” Denham says of Irish Mark P and Splinty: you lot are, simply reactionaries – in *every* sense of the word.

    How balanced. Are you suffering from political vertigo?

  20. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 28, 2009 at 12:34 am

    I think he just had an excellent lunch. At least he isn’t demanding our execution this time.

  21. decent interval said,

    September 28, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Is support for the Lisbon Treaty an official AWL position or a Denham embellishment? I can’t find anything to confirm this on their website (it lists “ten reasons why students should support the AWL”, but enthusiasm for neoliberal treaties is strangely not numbered among them).
    I should also imagine that Jim’s commitment to militant Zionism must occasionally place him in the same camp as some fairly unsavoury racists, fascists and fundamentalists (actually, strike out “occasionally”) but this doesn’t seem to cause him any lack of sleep.

  22. Mordaunt said,

    September 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

    [i]Spintred: you really are desperate now: as far as I know, the Vatican has not taken a position on the EU or the Lisbon treaty: well:*has* it?[/i]

    I’d say that this was cautiously pro-Lisbon http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060330_eu-parliamentarians_en.html

    It’s not a coincidence, btw, that the main supporters of European Integration have come from the Christian Democratic Parties. Or that the current Pope took the name of the patron saint of Europe at his accession. As it happens, Jim, I agree with you about the Lisbon Treaty, but the issues don’t boil down to a simple clash between good and evil or, indeed, progress and reaction. This facile guilt by association stuff simply won’t do.

  23. ejh said,

    September 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

    It will, though. For the purpose for which it’s intended.

    Hill-walking is good, too, by the way. Or stamp-collecting.

  24. Mordaunt said,

    September 28, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I can definitely recommend hill walking.

  25. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 28, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Ernest Mandel was an avid stamp collector. That might smack a little of Pabloite revisionism for Jim, but he might like to give it a try before dismissing it.

  26. September 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Gerry McGeough … there was a campaign by autonomous and anti-imp leftists in Germany for the freedom of him and his comrade Gerry Hanratty when they were imprisoned there 1989-1992

  27. moofaeTAE said,

    September 30, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Jim wrote: “But Bill Cash, the BNP, the ultra-right of the Tory Party, Sin Fein and the semi-fascist Gerry McGeough have done. Every anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-iimigrant force, as well as the Catholic bigots, are opposed to the EU. How the hell can you live with youselves knowing that you’re on the side of that bunch of scum?”

    Interestingly, Jim repeatedly puts SF into a list of rightist villains. Truth is, in this case SF’s anti-Lisbon stance (which is far from being as wholehearted as it was the first time) is more about seeming left wing and anti-establishment than for any rightist motivation. Some of SF’s right wing members like Chuckles McGuinness are (reportedly) not enthusiastic about being anti-Lisbon. Interestingly enough, it’s reported that McGuinness is against opposing the EU Treaty for basically the same reverse logic reason as Jim- if the British far right hate it, it must be worth supporting *AGOA*

    Further, SF aren’t as anti-EU as is often made out. They said in an anti-Lisbon meeting I attended that they just want a better deal essentially.

  28. Jim Denham said,

    September 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    moofaeTAE : Bloody hell! Your post of 30th Sept just goes to show how difficult it gets if you base yourself upon “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” rather than just judging situations on their merits and reaching a comclusion. Btw: no-one here has yet produced a case for why being anti-EU/Lisbon is in any way progressive.

  29. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    It seems to me, Jim, that a whole big whack of your argument is “Ireland must support Lisbon because UKIP and such are against it”. You might like to look here or here for a sense of some of the argumentation in Ireland.

  30. moofaeTAE said,

    September 30, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Jim,

    I don’t base myself on an enemy of my enemy is my friend at all. I’m not sure what that’s meant to mean in this context, as the party I support is a member of the Left anti-Lisbon coalition. We’re not working with Gerry McGeogh or COIR.

    Jim, you’ve used a deeply flawed logic- “these reactionaries support x so by supporting x you are like them”. You have not once presented even close to a class analysis. Whereas the Left anti-Lisbon position is motivated principally by the threat this treaty poses to workers rights, and privitisation imposed by Europe. One can argue that we are wrong. but at least it’s a class analysis- not an attempt to shame us by association.

    Even your Otto Van Bismarxist argument is invalid. As when you wrote:

    “And, anyway, Marxists, are for national integration. Even if carried out from “above” (ie: the “Bismarkian” route): you lot are, simply reactionaries – in *every* sense of the word.”

    As if voting no would somehow get rid of the EU. It won’t.

    -Turlogh

  31. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 30, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Furthermore, Jim is being disingenuous with his talk of “national integration”. Even if you’re willing to take Engels as a guide on the national question – which I’m not – he’s still garbling it. The Bismarck episode was about the unification of a nation – Germany – out of petty feudal states. The EU project is not at all the same sort of thing. If Jim wants to stretch the point, you could just as well apply his argument to saying that the British Empire was progressive.

  32. Jim Denham said,

    October 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Splintered and moofae: I do not presume that you are catholic nationalist reactionaries: just that you find yourself in the same camp. I am aware that the “other” camp also contains reactionaries – but at least they’re on the side of historical progress and international integration (that’s why the Bismark analogy about integration from above applies, btw). I still await a single positive reason for socialists to oppose either the EU in principle or Lisbon specifically.

  33. Mordaunt said,

    October 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Unless, I’m much mistaken the unification of Germany under Bismarck led to the creation of a German Empire run by a reactionary militarist aristocracy which went on to start two world wars. The precise benefit of any of this to the international class conscious proletariat really rather eludes me.

    Since 1950, or thereabouts, the Federal Republic has been a more or less reasonably decent bourgeois democracy (eighty odd years after unification) but only because Germany’s military capacity was reduced to reasonable levels by partition – the creation of the DDR, the final establishment of Austria as an independent polity and the handing over of large tracts of German territory to Poland and the Soviet Union (which is why Immanuel Kant’s home town of Konigsberg is now a Russian city named after a Soviet general). So the peace of Europe and democracy in Germany were, AFAICS, secured by national disintegration.

    One can hardly blame Engels for getting that one wrong – no-one expects prescience – but to say that Engels was in favour of German Unity in 1870 therefore we must be in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 is ludicrous. The two cases are hardly analogous but if they were remotely comparable the only sane thing to do would be to oppose the Treaty of Lisbon at all costs!

  34. Jim Denham said,

    October 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    OK, Mordaunt : Engels on Germany is irrelevant: now please respond to my challenge (already addressed to Splintered and moofae): give me one positive reason for for socialists to oppose the Lisbon Treaty. I know you’ve now lost, but please try to get over it and answer the question.

  35. ejh said,

    October 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I think, Jim, that not everybody shares your liking for ultra-aggressive discussions in which positions that have been gone over many, many times before are clubbed to death once again. A better idea is to try to tease out the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches and perhaps, even, appreciate viewpoints that are not actually our own.

    It certainly seems to me more promising than calling people reactionaries and declaring “I know you’ve now lost”.

  36. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I’ll give Jim one reason. I’ve been to Lisburn, and I didn’t like it. Otherwise, what ejh said.

  37. Mordaunt said,

    October 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Jim – As it happens I don’t oppose the Lisbon Treaty – see my comment 22. but if one holds – as opponents of Lisbon on this thread seem to do – that the ratification of Lisbon would weaken the position of the European working class as opposed to the European owning class, then I think that one would be obliged to oppose Lisbon.

    As it happens I think that this position is mistaken, but the possibility that I am not correct in this matter exists and I am not so certain that I am prepared to denounce those who oppose Lisbon as being guilty of bad faith. I think that it is a matter on which people of goodwill might legitimately differ.

    It’s a calculation about outcomes. You (and I) think that the ordinary people of Europe will do better out of Lisbon. Splintered, moofae and ejh don’t. Obviously we can’t all be right but it doesn’t follow that those of us who are wrong are wicked, or ill intentioned. After all, we don’t know who is wrong. If it turns out that you and I are, are you prepared to point your denunciations at yourself rather than the others?

  38. ejh said,

    October 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    For what it’s worth I don’t think I’ve expressed an opinion about Lisbon on this thread.

  39. Mordaunt said,

    October 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

    My bad. Apologies.


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