of the advantages of living in a democratic country
is a relative "freedom of expression". However,
the nature of the capitalist system makes it not so
much formal freedom of expression than how much can
you financially afford to express yourself.
recent example showing this is the Nice campaign in
the 26 counties. Leinster House is not a dictatorship,
the Nice Treaty is subject to a referendum, and opponents
to the treaty can freely express their views on the
treaty without fear of being prosecuted and going
to jail. Formally, supporters and opponents of the
Nice Treaty are equally free to express their views
and put their case across. But the reality is that
one party has a massive advantage over the other through
privileged access to massive financial and media resources.
political parties, business, trade unions and so-called
"civil society" are estimated to be spending
1.53 million Euro on the "Vote Yes" campaign
- more than ten times more than their opponents (The
Guardian, 12 October 2002). A problematic question
is then what shapes the outcome of political debates
the most: the force of arguments or money?
studies would help answering this question. However
it is undeniable that access to important financial
resources will facilitate the spread of certain ideas.
For example, to reach a national audience, one has
to have access to TV, radio or a national newspaper/magazine.
All this is very expensive. That Republicans and Socialists
have good arguments is one thing, but if they can
afford to put their ideas across is another. The force
of argument on its own is not enough.
website like The Blanket or a paper like the
Starry Plough even with the best of arguments
can never match the power of RTE or the Sunday
World to shape ideas. The critical question is
how can Socialists and Republicans win the "battle
of ideas" if they do not have access to sufficient
strategy of "infiltration" will fail, as
the experience of the Workers Party in RTE
proved. The ability of Republicans and Socialists
to achieve ideological hegemony through a protracted
"war of position" in the battle of ideas
is financially impossible. However, even if "the
dominant ideas are the ideas of the dominant classes",
that doesn't mean that the people will always believe
them. If different groups have to "sell"
ideas, there are no guarantees that the audience will
always "buy" them. Tony Blair for example,
in spite of access to massive financial resources,
has many problems "selling" the idea of
a war on Iraq.
ideological crisis of the ruling classes begins whenever
people are getting more and more sceptical of what
they are told. That is the crucial juncture: people
will be looking for answers elsewhere; and Republicans
and Socialists will find a receptive audience to their
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