If you’ve never seen it, then bear with me, but one of the most striking scenes in David Lean’s dramatization of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago is when the title character arrives back in Moscow from the war, and discovers that the local reds have taken over his home and are busily stealing everything in it.
Even as a young socialist that struck me as a horror, as I could think of little worse back then than having lots of randomers move in and “share” my books and stuff.
My mother, who was tolerant of my intellectual inclinations, sought to balance them with some common sense, based on her own conception of what was, and was not, right. Among the latter was taking things that did not belong to you. There were, she said, other ways of ensuring that people had sufficient means to live other than communism.
That had to do with a conception of the Common Good. I was struck by that when reading the text of the proposed Right to Housing Bill 2020, which was tabled last July by five communist-sympathising TDs: Mssrs. Boyd Barrett, Smith, Murphy, Kenny and Barry.
The Bill proposes an amendment to Article 43 of Bunreacht na hÉireann that would assert that “the State recognises the common good as including to secure, affordable and dignified housing,” and that accordingly, the state “shall delimit the right to private property where it is necessary to secure the common good and to vindicate the said right to housing for all residents of Ireland.” In other words, to protect the right to housing, we must give the State the power to take away people’s homes, “for the common good”.
Those who referred to the Common Good in the era of classical Marxism, as did the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891, meant something that stood above class interests at a time of “the enormous fortunes of some individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses”. They were ridiculed as idealists or as cynics who did not understand the need to replace all aspects of individuality, including the basic right to have one’s own possessions with an overweening collective, the State.
That is what this Bill proposes. And despite the experience within historical memory of the horrors of socialist and national socialist totalitarianism, the sirens of the servile state are once again able to command a large audience. The current vast expansion of state power in the midst of the Covid panic is not only supported by almost the entire left from the namby-pamby ones to the real Marxists, but provides them with a rationale for extending that to all other aspects of life, including where you live.
The amendment to the Constitution as put in the Bill is not going to make any difference to those unfortunates who sleep rough for whatever reason. Nor will it make any practical difference to supply, particularly if it is tied to a completely contradictory support for mass immigration.
Which of course is covered in the text by the reference to “all residents” as opposed to “all citizens.” Come to Ireland and get a house. Or make no effort to get your own house and we’ll get you one anyway, even if it belongs to someone else.
The simple fact of course is that it is impossible to balance a massive increase in population through corporate capital driven immigration and guarantee even the survival of the current level of public provision in housing no more than in education, health, transport, policing and so on.
As noted above, Boyd Barrett is correct in highlighting the malign influence of the vulture funds who are establishing a grip over an increasing proportion of the housing market here. The solution to that, however, is introducing controls on overseas colonization of the housing sector, the manner in which housing finance operates, and facilitating not restricting the ability of people to have their own home.
The anti-Statist left, including our own James Connolly, never supported the replacement of tyrannical capital with the tyrannical Leviathan. Irish nationalism in its economic proposals has always focused upon the dispersion not the eradication of private property. The best way to ensure that when it comes to housing is neither through monopoly finance, nor through state monopoly. Neither promote the Common Good.
It is likely that this will appear for debate at some stage as a Private Members Motion. Given that the other parties have gone along with the ultra left in their pushing of abortion, “assisted dying” and over-turning the law regarding citizenship, it will be interesting to see what the response is.
Sinn Féin will go along with it because they have been taken over by a combination of people who will say anything if they think it gets votes and ideologically motivated fanatics who prior to the abandoning by Sinn Féin of anything resembling traditional republicanism would have been members of one of the other left parties rather than the one that was then more inimical to career advancement.
The government parties will not wish to be seen to be against “equality” but despite their current Wokeness that hardly extends to constitutional threats to private property. Even if that concept is seemingly under revision as part of “resetting” the current economic system as recommended by the World Economic Forum which will be putting this concept to world leaders at Davos in June.
In moving the Bill, Boyd Barrett once again noted that when a similar proposal had been debated in 2007 that the Greens had supported it. So why wouldn’t they support it now?
Of course, many of the intellectually bankrupt TDs and Senators of all the other parties will go for this, because in contrast to the communists in fairness, they do not actually believe in any Jaysus thing. For those in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens it will come down to a simple sum of self interest and the interests of the vulture funds – who Boyd Barrett rightly criticises for their rapaciousness – versus their current inclinations towards Fair Play For All Persons. In this instance the smart money would be on the first winning the WWF conscience wrestling.
All for the Common Good, of course.