So you’ve probably all seen the facebook and social media posts from people returning their Irish Water contracts*. They’re labeling the envelopes with a sort of quasi-legal, unusually phrased series of statements and then returning to sender. Here’s a short explanation from a blog I found while cruising for info on the matter
Yeah I know, the guy is into esoteric science and metaphysics, and to be fair, who among us doesn’t like a bit of esoteric science of an evening? I don’t know or read this guy’s blog or agree or disagree with what he’s saying, but I thought it was a useful explanation of what people are doing.
For the record, I notionally agree with the idea of water charges. I think water should be treated as a far more precious resource than it is. However since the water system in Ireland can be at best described as antiquated, and many rural communities receive extremely poor water service, I can see why people are protesting.
As you can see from the link above, the protest methodology seems to be to completely ignore the very idea of Irish Water as an entity, via this Return to Sender label. This is a form of protest that’s been around for a long time and seems to be gathering momentum among the sort of people who enjoy hunting, subtle anti-Semitism, and carrot cake. I made the carrot cake bit up to make them sound normal. It’s called Sovereign Citizenship. It goes like this. I was created by God/Mother Earth/Zeus/Biology, and not bound by the contract of civilisation. As such, I am free from the laws of civilisation, and just because I just so happen to live in the same country as your society, does not mean I have to participate. I am alone, entitled to the same respect and treatment as a sovereign nation.**
This kind of seems reasonable, in a sort of childish way. It reminds me of the stories your mates would tell you in Primary School, like the one about Marc Almond who had his ribs removed so he could auto fellate. Or how there is a note, when played, makes humans lose control of their bowels. It’s a little abstract, but you can see where the idea comes from. So let’s shoot on back to the water charges.
Ignoring Irish Water as an entity and just deciding that in your eyes it doesn’t exist isn’t possible as a form of protest, unless it’s an ironic one. Firstly, you have a post box and an address where the letter can be delivered initially. So you have accepted at least one of the common features of a society- you are registered to live in it. Secondly, you have a water supply to your home. If you were truly serious about casting off the trappings of society and ignoring its constructs, then you’d have sunk a well in your garden by now. I could go on, but suffice to say this method of protest only seems valid if you ignore all of the other societal norms. Do you claim social welfare? Do you have a mortgage? Do you pay other taxes? Do your children go to state schools? Do you drive on roads? Walk on footpaths? Have you ever rang for an ambulance?
“Oh c’mon Barry, I just don’t want to pay my fucking water bill”. I know, I know. I’m just saying is all.
I mean, the “I do not have an international treaty with you” one. Does that not bother you even in the slightest? Does your ego not say “Yeah, even I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a country”. Is there not a little rational part of you saying “Uh yeah that does sound a little, odd. Where am I going to put the tourists? Maybe I’ll talk to Marc Almond”.
I get it on some level. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”. So spake Rousseau about the inequities of society. I see the reason for the protest, but I question the method, mainly because I think it won’t work. It’s not a legal challenge to Irish Water’s right to charge, it’s not a gathering of people, it’s not a petition, it’s just some stuff, read on the internet, by a guy, who clicked share. I doubt many people writing this on their Irish Water packs even know what they’re really saying when they’re writing it.
What you are saying is that you are a sovereign man (or indeed woman). This is a philosophy, usually foisted on the desperate, that claims you have the right to be a country unto yourself. If this is you, I expect to see you wear a hat with a flag in it at all times, and I want you to show your passport every time you take your pants off. More on being a sovereign man here, from the wonderful folks at Rational Wiki http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sovereign_citizen
There are stories of people who bought into this philosophy, took out loans, bought cars, mortgaged properties and so on. And when the banks came knocking, they labeled their mail in the same manner as above, aaaaaaand were sent to jail. You shouldn’t base your protests on what your mate says, or what you read on a blog. Putting that label on your envelope might cost you more than your water charges would.
*for non-Irish readers of my blog, Ireland is undergoing water charging for the first time in it’s history. It’s caused uproar for many reasons, not the least of which is the botched method of billing that requires families to give their PPS (Irish Social Security) number so that their children can receive free water.
** Also, the Jews are shape shifting lizard aliens who control the financial institutions. I could reference this but actually just google that phrase. You’ll find any number of nuts.