There is no doubt that the current crisis in Ireland, and internationally, has major implications not just for the economy but socially and politically as well. However, in Ireland at least, there are no signs that policy makers have grasped the full extent of the problem yet.
It appears that the main pre-occupation is still how to preserve the status quo, or as much of it as possible, rather than a serious look at the fundamental problems inherent in the system and their consequences for society. This is to be expected from those on the Right.
What is surprising is that some of the more radical alternative solutions on the economy are being proposed by sources considered on the Right. They include the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the International Monetary Fund.
Similarly, commentators such as David McWilliams, Peter Mathews, Paul Somerville, Jim Power, George Soros, Senator Shane Ross, Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev, Professor Patrick Honohan, Professor Morgan Kelly, Professor Karl Whelan and Professor Brian Lucy could hardly be described as the “raving, loony Left” and yet they have, during the last decade, repeatedly come up with analysis and alternatives that would go far beyond what the Irish Congress of Trade Unions or the Irish Labour Party have offered.
Indeed, the lack of any alternative proposals on the part of the bigger Trade Unions and Political Parties at a time of an unprecedented crisis in capitalism is conspicuous for its absence. The almost complete agreement, with minor differences, on the strategy forward from political parties on the Right and the Left is quite a remarkable accomplishment on the part of the establishment.
Despite ample research pointing to the fact that societies that address social inequality do better on almost every indicator, one would be hard pressed to find any mention of it in the political discourse of all the major parties, Left or Right. Instead, all the attention is focused on ensuring that there are no radical or fundamental changes offered.
The main pre-occupation of all the major political parties appears to be not to offend the wealthy and the powerful by suggesting that they pay their fair share of the cost of this fiasco caused by their rapacious behaviour.
The need to ensure a minimal corporation tax rate is considered sacrosanct, almost worth going to war with “friends” but no such consideration for protecting the poor, the weak and the vulnerable in society, they can be sacrificed with disdain. Of course, this is nothing new to any student of history, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable.
Furthermore, the lack of any proposals to avoid the same predicament in future is also lamentable. We are supposed to be satisfied with the fact that there is a different regulator and Governor of Central Bank, never mind that the policies and the guiding principles remain largely the same as those responsible for this crisis.
Indeed, any mention of the need for a significant change of mindset is ridiculed with scorn by “respected” commentators and “experts” as impractical, childish and generally not worthy of consideration. This is despite many serious problems with regard to equality and fairness and their impact on poverty, housing, healthcare, education, transport and energy over many decades and the need to address them as a matter of urgency.
It is often claimed that the majority of the population do not want radical and significant changes. If this is true, is it not due to the fact that any alternative is condemned to the margins and hardly ever discussed seriously? Is it not because the true costs of the existing situation are usually minimised and framed in a manner that distracts attention away from the root causes? Is it not because of the relentless promotion of a skewed set of values and the subliminal assumptions propping up the status quo?
It appears that far from playing a role in helping to bring about the required changes, the leadership of the Left is often a hindrance to it and any significant change is only possible as a result of popular action.
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