Current Affairs Economics Politics

Ain’t Nothing Change But The Weather

Eamon Gilmore
Éamon Gilmore – Calm The Rich, Con The Poor

One definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result each time. So take the words of Robin McAlpine in the Scotsman newspaper on the SNP’s policies for an independent Scotland and more importantly the example of Ireland’s calamitous slide into cowboy capitalism during the 1990s and 2000s.

“Currently, the SNP exists in a third-way fudge between two political philosophies. Critics have named this delusion “the myth of Scandimerica”, the belief that you can have Scandinavian social services with US-level taxes. Actually, there was no need since the delusion already had a name – the Arc of Prosperity.

The Arc of Prosperity was a knowing fantasy predicated on the belief that corrupt, housing-and-speculation-gone-mad Ireland was actually the other side of the coin of socially democratic Norway.

The opposite is the truth; economically and socially the politics of Ireland were diametrically opposed to Norway. The former followed unstable get-rich-quick doctrines with an unsustainable faith in short-term trickle-down. The latter emphasised productive growth, a balanced economy and long-term investment strategies where the equality and high standard of living these generate make higher taxes painless.

Let’s call these the neoliberal model and the European social model. There isn’t space here to detail their characteristics but very loosely one promotes progress-through-conflict (markets, competition, wealth-creators) and one promotes progress-through-mutuality (productivity, balanced economy, public services).

…they are more-or-less mutually exclusive. The things you do to increase real productivity work against short-term speculative gain. The things you do to encourage competition create unbalanced economies. The ideology of “wealth creators” is at odds with the ideal of a strong welfare state.”

Which begs the question, why are the three establishment parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour working so hard to revive a socio-economic model that has proven to be such an economic, social, cultural and environmental disaster for our island nation? What is driving the political, business and media elites in this country to recreate the Celtic Tiger economy and society of a decade ago when they – and we – are well aware of its superficial and ultimately corrosive nature? Are the political classes in Ireland so lacking in wit that like a dog returning to its vomit they must nose at the mess they have created in the hope of lapping it up again?

We Fight For Neither King Nor Kaiser
We Fight For Neither King Nor Kaiser (Íomhá: éirígí)

Or do they wish to replace a failed Celtic Tiger economy with another certain-to-fail Neo-Celtic Tiger economy that is little more than a self-perpetuating Ponzi Scheme for the top 1%? And where does that leave the other 99% of the population who have nothing for their labour but bitterness and resentment? What then of any concept of social or communal responsibility by the majority when a minority can simply act as if they exist above such things?

We have a choice in Ireland. We can become the Celtic Norway or Finland of western Europe with our social and cultural mores reflected in our economic structures. Or once again we can become the Wild West of Europe, where society and culture are dirty words, where concepts like responsibility are deemed to be an unnecessary restraint on our freedom to do our worse.

1 comment on “Ain’t Nothing Change But The Weather

  1. I’m fortunate my last time I lived in Dublin was actually the second time I lived there, the first time was when my dad was at TCD! I was a new born. Of course, i cant remeber s thing but my mum and dad loved to reminisce about there time at TCD. He knew Joe Duffy who was Union President. I don’t know how true this is but I was told that Joe was on the Late Late as he was something of a firebrand. He was asked by Gaybo, so, who would you vote for, labour, FF or FG and he replied that it’s akin to asking which floor do you want to jump to your death from, 61st, 62nd or 63rd and I couldn’t agree more, especially Southern Labour, I just hope they disband because they do not represent anything of the left, they’re unreformed Stickies occupying what should be a decent party, they disgust me…

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