Monthly Archives For January 2013

Paul Murphy MEP – Challenges Enda Kenny on Bank debt

, , 2 Comments

A very good opportunity for Paul Murphy to challenge Enda Kenny in the European Parliament and he did it well. Kenny’s response was of course to get a dig in that had absolutely nothing to do with the criticism he made. Murphy pointed out that Ireland is paying 42% of the bailout for European banks. Kenny said Paddy pays his debts.

Paul Murphy challenges Taoiseach Enda Kenny for being the poster boy of austerity and failing to tackle the bondholders over the banking debt. Kenny has driven austerity in Ireland while going with a begging bowl looking for some crumbs from the EU on the private bank debt which was hoisted onto the shoulders of the Irish people. Kenny’s reply can be seen here.

Read Post →

Avoiding the dustbin of history a year after privatisation in Dublin

, , 5 Comments

This day last year, 16th January 2012, was a black day for Irish trade unionism. From that day bin collection in Dublin was carried out by a private firm, Greyhound, after Dublin City Council sold the business to them bringing bin collection by the city to an end after almost 150 years. The privatisation of bin collection in Dublin City Council was, among all the recent setbacks and climb downs of the trade union movement, a symbolic defeat in a heartland of Irish blue collar trade unionism. The Dublin bins have gone the way of other emblematic and once seemingly impregnable redoubts of Irish trade union stability, such as the integrity and public status of electricity supply and the sacredness of the JLC/ERO system. Unlike signal defeats further back, those at Pat the Baker, Ryanair and Irish Ferries for instance, the Dublin bins passed with only a whimper.

That the privatisation of Dublin city bin collection happened at all was a depressing development. The manner in which it occurred served only to lower the mood further. As the changeover happened some of the bin workers themselves were certainly dissatisfied with the situation and with the unions:

“Before heading out [for the last time at Davitt Road depot], the men met for about half an hour to discuss their options. There was talk of “missed opportunities”, of how they should have balloted for industrial action before Christmas, or sat in in the depot last week, keeping the lorries hostage. They derided both council management and their unions – Impact and Siptu. Shortly after 6.30am the seven crews set out. It was minus 1 degree, and still dark….” (Irish Times, 14th January 2012)

Read Post →

January Issue of Socialist Voice is Out Now

, , Comment Closed

January issue of Socialist Voice is out now.
Download or view it online.

Alternatively read the embedded version below.

Articles in the January issue include

1. Make 2013 the year of resistance! [EMC]
2. To the working people of Ireland: New Year statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
3. Back to the future [EMC]
4. The Baltic Ireland? [COM]
5. What’s good for business . . . [NL]
6. Capitalist automation and social dislocation [NC]
7. Marching into a cul-de-sac [PW]
8. Gatherings of socialist republicans—a small beginning
9. The gambling business: “a statement of confidence in Ireland and its people”! [BG]
10. Seán Redmond (1936–2012) [PW]
11. Joe Deasy (1922–2013) [TR]
12. Frank Conroy Commemoration
13. The South African revolution betrayed [TMS]
14. Mind your language [RCN]
15. A worker reads and asks questions [Bertolt Brecht]
16. Letter: Symbolic hunger strike by Bangladeshi garment workers

Read Post →

The New Dependency Theory

, , 1 Comment

The crisis that began in late 2007, and which seems to be continuing for the foreseeable future, has highlighted the role of global wholesale financial markets in creating what may be described as new dependency relationships. Old dependency theory was a structural-Marxist theory. It hypothesised that the world capitalist economy is structurally arranged to facilitate massive transfers of capital from developing countries to the developed world. The new dependency theory agrees that net outflows of capital from developing countries have been continuing unabated for the past three decades. But—and this is a key difference between new and old dependency theory—these illicit flows are a problem not only for developing countries but also for developed ones.

This is so for two reasons. First, the net flow of capital is not necessarily transferred to or invested in the developed world. Rather, the transfer of financial resources from developing countries joins a large pool of capital registered in offshore locations. Second, there is evidence that developed countries are subject to net external outflow of capital as well. In contrast to old dependency theory, the new theory suggests that capital transfers do not necessarily operate on a regional or intra-national basis; rather, wholesale global financial markets have emerged as gigantic re-distributive machines that play a key role in the continuing and growing gap between rich and poor world-wide.

In developed countries, the main detrimental impacts of illicit flows are growing income inequalities and a weakening and narrowing of the tax base, as effective (as opposed to nominal) tax rates by corporations and rich individuals decreases continuously. For developing countries these problems are compounded further: they include poor governance structure, a large black economy, lack of capital for basic infrastructural projects, and over-reliance on foreign aid money that generates harmful political-economic dynamics.

Read Post →

A Really Really Special Case Requires a Really Really Special Solution

, , 3 Comments

With considerable speculation about an impending deal on bank debt, with the Taoiseach and the German Chancellor jointly stating that Ireland is a ‘special case’, it is helpful to remind ourselves just how special a case we are.

Eurostat, the EU Commission’s data agency has calculated the cost of the banking crisis in each EU country. The following focuses on the cost to general government budgets. Ireland has really taken one for Team EU.

Yes, there’s wee Ireland up at the top, just edging out Germany for the dubious title of spending the most on the banking crisis. €41 billion to date according to the Eurostat accounting data (this doesn’t count the billions ploughed into the covered banks from our National Pension Reserve Fund as this was not counted as a ‘cost’ to the General Government budget).

Of course, this doesn’t give the best picture. What happens when we look at the cost as a percentage of GDP?

Read Post →

The Atheists Pray for Chávez

, , Comment Closed

This is a translation of a piece published by John Brown, Friday 11th January 2013.

“Le Prince étant défini uniquement, exclusivement, par la fonction qu'il doit accomplir, c'est à dire par le vide historique qu'il doit remplir, est une forme vide, un pur possible-impossible aléatoire”

(Trans: Being uniquely and exclusively defined by the function he must perform – that is to say, by the historical vacuum he must fill- the Prince is a pure aleatory possibility-impossibility)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in a rather emotional event. It was a gathering organised by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in solidarity with its president Hugo Chávez who was unable to swear in to his role as re-elected president due to the state of his health. Solidarity with the person who is president spread throughout the entire Bolivarian revolutionary process.

The gathering was made up of members of the Latin American community in Brussels and of other people who support the Bolivarian process and, in general, the transformative wave that is radically changing a large part of Latin America. The attendees, including the members of the ALBA diplomatic corps, were all everyday people, politicised and concerned. Live images appeared on screen of the huge demonstration in Caracas, where the population itself, in Hugo Chávez’s absence, took up the role of president. It was a thrilling scene: against an ‘opposition’ which was letting off fireworks weeks ago when it thought the president was dead, and which even today relies more on cancer than on its own electoral power to put an end to the Bolivarian process, there was a colourful –but also very red- tide, made up of people of all kinds and ages, surrounding the Miraflores palace to defend democracy, their democracy. Against putschism. Against death. Today, even we atheists pray for Chávez to that God whom we know does not exist.

Read Post →

Let’s Remind Ourselves that Downsizing the Public Sector is Economically Daft

, , Comment Closed

With negotiations over an extension of the Croke Park Agreement starting today, it is helpful to remind ourselves how daft it is to downsize the public sector payroll in the hopes it will reduce the deficit.

There are two ways to downsize the public sector payroll: cut public sector employment and/or cut public sector pay. Since the crisis began, we have been doing both. Public sector pay has been cut twice through the pension levy and the wage cuts of Budget 2010. Public sector employment has been cut by approximately 29,700 since late 2008, or 9.3 percent.

Yet, the Government finds that it must cut more than it had already planned. It needs €1 billion more in austerity measures to achieve their targets. It’s like running in quicksand – cut, sink, cut some more.

Yet, downsizing the public sector produces little benefit in stabilising public finances. Why? Because it is so darned deflationary – it bleeds the economy of employment, consumer spending and growth. When you factor in the economic consequences of the cuts, you find the Exchequer hasn’t saved as much as it hoped.

Let’s look at the estimates from the ESRI.

Read Post →

Six Points in Croke Park

, , 1 Comment

As talks for a new Deal begin here are a half-dozen things you probably know about the Croke Park Deal that should stop the unions extending it.

  1. The Croke Park Deal seems to set up a conflict between pay and job security, on the one hand, and services to the public and the needy on the other. (Of course the real conflict is between pay, job security and services on the one hand and the billions given to the banks on the other. Nevertheless this does not stop the media head fixers from using the structure of the Croke Park Deal to pitch services against pay, job security and conditions. The alternative is for the unions to fight against cuts in services and jobs, wages and conditions.)

  1. The Croke Park Deal seems to accept cuts in services in return for a jobs and pay guarantee. (This impression is reinforced by the lack of union resistance to the cuts and, indeed by point 3 below).

  1. The Croke Park Deal facilitates the cuts in services through co-operation with restructuring and transferring to cover for the reduced staffing.

  1. The Croke Park Deal agrees to massive reductions in (decent and unionised) jobs at the very time when every job is needed and in contradiction to the trade union policy of state-led investment in growth and jobs. (“Public Service Numbers are now [September 2012] 28,000 lower (at 292,000 approx) than their peak (of 320,000 approx) at end 2008”(Progress on the implementation of the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan, 6th September 2012]).
  2. Read Post →

Translation: Are the Mareas a new trade unionism?

, , 1 Comment

Translation of an article published on the Madrilonia website on the 10th of January which asks Are the Mareas a new trade unionism?

It describes how the forms of networked democratic participation that spread after 15M have been a feature of the Marea Verde [Green Tide] and Marea Blanca [White Tide] – massive militant mobilisations in defence of public services, in education and health, respectively.

Last September one year had passed since the birth of the Marea Verde in defence of public education. A year later we can say that the phenomenon of the Mareas is not an isolated thing, but rather constitutes (with the Marea Blanca as its best expression) a new organisational reality. We want to identify some of its peculiarities so as to answer the initial question: do the tides prefigure a new trade unionism?

1. From defence of what is public [lo público] to communities

The essential difference in the movement of the Mareas from the traditional conceptions of trade unionism is in having abandoned the defence of public services as corporate conflicts linked exclusively to the immediate pay demands of professionals. The success of theMarea Blanca and Marea Verde mobilisations is due to the fact they have managed to open up the problem of cuts to society as a whole. By appealing to communities as the ultimate defenders of public services, there is an introduction of the idea that health or education are common matters that by necessity must be defended by everyone.

By opening up the problem to society as a whole, the frontier between users of a service and the professionals who provide it begins to break down. The basic notion is established that health centres, schools and hospitals are spaces for and belonging to everyone. This breaks with the idea that a public service is the sole responsibility of the government.

Read Post →

China’s Economy Speeds Up

, , Comment Closed

China’s economy in 2012 was “a tale of two halves”: In the first six months slowdown, even a feeling of developing crisis; in the second half recovery and accelerating growth. The story therefore had a happy ending. But it is worth noting what went wrong in the first half, and how it was corrected in the second, as this contains lessons for the future.

The initial problem in early 2012 was simple. China’s economic policy makers underestimated the problems in the developed economies. China’s official prediction of 10 percent export increase in 2012 could not be achieved without significant growth in developed markets. This did not materialize – the US economy grew slowly while Japan and the EU’s fell into a new decline. Consequently, as is now officially stated, 2012’s export target will not be achieved.

This itself was not an extremely serious error. It is impossible in economics, due to the enormous number of variables involved, to make precisely accurate predictions, only orders of magnitude can be accurately predicted. The undershoot in export growth in 2012 will not be enormous. To compensate for international demand being weaker than predicted China required a domestic economic stimulus. It was here that a much more serious problem initially arose.

Read Post →

BEARING WITNESS

, , Comment Closed

Published to highlight the big antifascist mobilisation in Greece on the 19th January and which is seeking international support.

BEARING WITNESS

My name is Samuel Bak.  I am an artist.

I am Jewish and I live in the United States.

But I was born in Vilnius, when it was Poland.

At the time of my birth Hitler was seizing power over Germany.

In 1933 he was carried by waves of grave discontent and maddening nationalism.

Huge crowds cheered him, as if he were God.

They preferred to ignore the dear price that came with such a terrible choice.

In the late thirties I was a boy of five or six.

And all these ominous events were happening beyond the border of my land.

In my lovely and warm home, life went on as usual.

Often I seat at a well-furnished table, surrounded by a loving family,

And heard these words:

“This could never, never happen here . . .”

Two years later the Nazis burst into our flat.

They dragged my Mother and me into the Ghetto.

They murdered my father, my grandparents,

They murdered many loving members of my family.

They murdered about 95% of the Lithuanian Jews, the highest rate of the extermination of 6 millions European Jews.

They did not spare innumerable Russian prisoners of war, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists, and civil populations at large – in short – all the ones who obstructed their march to universal power.

Today I am one of the few lucky survivors, who can bear witness. I do it in my art, in my lectures, and in my writing.

Read Post →

A Call For International Solidarity for the 19 January – Athens Antifascist City Protests

, , 2 Comments

A call for international solidarity from The Organising Committee of the “19 January – Athens Antifascist City”.

We appeal to the antifascists who have been alerted by the rise of the neonazi Golden Dawn and to those who stand in solidarity with the greek people. Our call for international solidarity has now grown into an international antifascist movement.

Demos outside greek embassies and conculates are now being organised in London (UK), Dublin and Derry (Ireland), Barcelona and Ossona (Catalunya), Lyon (France), Tampere (Finland), Chicago and New York (USA) and news for initiatives in other countries are streaming in.

We ask for more demos in solidarity with the greek movement, that is preparing for a big show of strength in Syntagma Square on the 19th of January. It is not just an international affair, it is part of a concerted effort to build a movement that will target rising fascism and racism in Europe and in the whole world.

Read Post →