Elsewhere today March 17, 2010Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Class, Economics, Housing, Human Rights, Ireland, Justice, Political Philosophy.
HumanRightsInIreland, a blog run by Irish academic lawyers, has a series of posts today on the theme (to my ear, hi falutin) of ‘Human Rights Lexicon’. However, don’t let that put you off. I recommend the post by Illan Rua Wall on the right to housing in a post-crash Ireland. It gives some thoughts that are new to me on how we might approach economic injustices through the legal concept of human rights. (Whether it will ever get legs is another story.)
To begin the task of shifting the neo-liberal imagination, I suggest the crime of squatting (for it is a criminal offence in Ireland). Squatting is to take direct action, not against this or that policy of the government, but against trite neo-liberal abstraction and injustice. By placing people, real lived experience, in these ‘toxic’ assets, the reality of the situation is manifested in a material sense. Ireland is increasingly a country which is divided between the rich within their neat comfortable zones, and the poor who are increasingly subjects of toil, insult, degradation and burden. It is not alone in this, but that is not the issue. What if the 43,000 families currently waiting for social housing, broke into the empty houses and apartments all over the country, now in state (or at least NAMA) ownership? I suggest this would at once be an a-legal vindication of their economic rights, but it would also present an attempt to rupture the neo-liberal ideological hold on the country.