Observe the sons of Ulstur

It was a word that irked Mrs Thatcher no end.

She wanted people to find another one to describe how nationalists in Northern Ireland felt about the state and their place in it.

During the negotiations that eventually led to the Anglo-Irish agreement in 1985 the Iron Lady snapped when the policy wonks consistently referred to the “alienation” of Catholics in the North of Ireland.

“That’s a Marxist word” she snarled.

It is true that Karl Marx’s earliest scholarship dealt with how humans would become emotionally detached from the product of their labours in this new economic system that he was studying.

In one sense capitalism and class structure plays a part in the alienation road show that is about to descend on the capital of this country on Saturday.

A century ago those who signed the Ulster Covenant were putting their names on the title deeds of a class alliance.

Shipyard owner and shipyard worker were united in the nearest thing the British Empire had to a Broederbond.

It worked well and for a long time.

Only the Outdoor Relief strike of 1932 threatened the established order.

The Falls and the Shankhill rioted in unison at cuts to a very basic welfare provision.

The banging of the Lambeg got people to falling into line.

If the Taigs were against it then it had to be a good thing.

Sinn Féin has cautioned people to refrain from engaging with this demonstration in any way.

It is wise counsel.

What these chaps intend to bring to Dublin is nihilistic bile and vitriol.

Any response from the denizens of Dublin will simply feed it with the energy it needs to keep going.

The capital city is not short of its own anti-social elements as the “Love Ulster” riot showed.

Hopefully the demonstration will pass off without incident.

People in Northern Ireland in leadership positions should be concerned about what is behind these protests.

It certainly isn’t about a fleg.

The educational failure in Loyalist areas, especially among boys, should be a top priority for the politicians who represent areas like the Shankhill and Rathcoole.

This is no Marcusean substratum, but a racist underclass where fascism can grow.

They are rapidly becoming outcasts and outsiders from mainstream civil society and many of them are certainly unemployed and unemployable.

In the class alliance that was Ulster Unionism they have been cast aside by their social betters.

Many of them do not vote yet they take to the streets to clash with the police because they disagree with a democratic decision of Belfast City Council.

Low voter turnout is a clear cultural difference between poor Protestant neighbourhoods and disadvantaged Catholic areas in Northern Ireland.

There are others like the differential levels of educational attainment.

The numbers at these protests have been in the hundreds and not thousands.

The protests against the Anglo-Irish agreement brought a huge crowd to Belfast to hear the Reverend Ian Paisley shout “Never! Never! Never!”

The fleg disturbances have been a containable public order issue, but the strain on the PSNI has been real enough and has attracted the attention of the London media.

Roy Greenslade, as ever, got to the core issue and explored the existential crisis at the heart of contemporary loyalism.

What the fleg chaps need to keep them warm at night is an assurance that they are better than the Fenians.

They’re not, neither are they any worse, they’re just the same.

Realising that and working together around common economic aims with their Catholic neighbours would be to the benefit of everyone, especially as Westminster imposes austerity measures on the poor across the UK regardless of their religious background.

The existence of the fleg protest is strong evidence that culture and ethnicity can trump  class consciousness.

That is something that Marx did not think would happen over a long period of time.

This lumpenproletariat are alienated for sure, but not for reasons that would have pleased the man buried in Highgate cemetery.

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