Monthly Archives For June 2013

Jodi Dean Talk The Rehearsal Room, Connolly Books, Friday 28th of June @6.45pm

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Talk by Jodi Dean, author of Communist Horizon

UPDATE – The video of the talk, thanks to Left Forum.

Friday 6.45pm 28th June @ Connolly Book, Essex Street Temple Bar

In association with the Left Forum, Jodi Dean will give a talk on what she terms “communicative capitalism” and the Communist horizon in the rehearsal room above Connolly Books.

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What has been the political impact of networked communications technologies? In the era of the occupy movement, the Arab Spring, Wikileaks and now the protests in Brazil and Turkey, many have celebrated the internet and social media’s central role in creating resistance movements. Jodi Dean, author of 'The Communist Horizon' and 'Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies', argues that the web has formed part of a profoundly depoliticizing shift in capitalism, which has enabled the marriage of neoliberalism to the democratic values of participation and the reduction of politics to the registration of opinions and the transmission of feelings.

She insists that any reestablishment of a vital and purposeful left politics will require shedding the mantle of victimization, confronting the marriage of neoliberalism and democracy and mobilizing different terms to represent political strategies and goals. The left’s ability to develop and defend a collective vision of equality has been undermined by the ascendance of what she calls “communicative capitalism”. Although we have the means to express ideas and ask questions like never before, Dean asks why, in an age celebrated for its communications, there is no response.

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Bloody Disaster

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A good friend of mine took one look at the CSO’s National Quarterly Accounts released today and described it in two words:  ‘f****** awful’.  As this is a family-friendly blog I’ll just content myself with ‘bloody disaster’.

Ireland’s recession is continuing and even accelerating.  GDP has fallen for three quarters – with the first quarter of this year registering a fall of 0.6 percent.  Since the summer of last year the economy has fallen by 1.8 percent.  Let’s put that in perspective.  This is the biggest fall over three quarters since 2009 when the economy went ballistic.

Let’s survey the main points:

  • Consumer spending has fallen through the floor – falling 3 percent in one quarter.  This is the biggest quarterly fall in the recession.
  • Investment is continuing to fall – over 7 percent.
  • Exports fell by over 3 percent.  They have fallen in three out of the last four quarters.  So much for the export-led recovery.

We are in now in the middle of a perfect storm – falling exports (due to irrational austerity being pursued at EU level) and fall domestic demand – due to our home-grown irrationality.

Let’s knock this GNP-thingy on the head.  No doubt, supporters of austerity and government policy will try to claim that the 2.9 percent increase as somehow ‘more reflective of the domestic economy.’  This is not true.

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Why Do We Have ‘Austerity’ and What is the Alternative?

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The national launch of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a very welcome development. It brings together a number of the largest unions, anti-cuts group and political forces both inside and outside the Labour Party in opposition to austerity policies.

Many will have been drawn into active opposition to government policies because a single aspect of them, perhaps the cuts in public sector pay and pensions, or social protection for people with disabilities, or the imposition of the bedroom tax or the very high level of unemployment among young black people, or the string of cuts which have driven women out of public sector jobs, facing reduced childcare provision and increasingly bearing the burden of reduced social care.

All of these policies are linked and generally go under the title of ‘austerity’. The term is a little misleading, as it implies that conditions have generally become worse for all. But that is not the case.

Transfer of incomes

One of the first acts of the Coalition government was a simultaneous increase in VAT and a cut in the level of corporation tax. According to the Treasury these amounted to approximately the same (£12bn to £13bn) in terms of revenue. But the VAT hike was disproportionately paid for by the poor and middle income earners, who spend more of their incomes on VAT-able goods. The corporation tax cut was an increase in the net income for firms. Taken together they amount to a transfer of incomes from workers and the poor to capital and the rich, the owners of firms.

This transfer of incomes from labour and the poor to capital and the rich is the essence of austerity policies. It is workers and the poor who are being made to pay for the crisis.

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OURmedia Dublin 2013 Conference, June 24-25th, Civic Offices Dublin and DCU

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OURmedia Dublin 2013 Conference

“Dealing With Crisis: Community, Alternative, Citizens', and Social Media in Times of Change”

On June 24-25th

Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council Civic Offices (24th, 9.30am – 9pm) and DCU (25th, 9.30am – 4pm)

The opening event, “What News Does Dublin need? An Exploration of Models of News and Information That We Should Build for Our City”, is organised by the Dublin City Community Media Forum in conjunction with the Community Forum and will examine the news media in Dublin City. Speakers at this session include, Donal Higgins (DCTV), James Redmond (Rabble), and Jack Byrne (NearFM).

The two-day Alternative and Community Media Conference will examine different avenues of media used throughout the world as the pre-conference to IAMCR 2013 and will feature panels on 'Community Media in the Arab World' & 'Community Media for Peace and Development in Cyprus'.

These events are open to the public.

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You Don’t Earn Much Money – Get Used to It

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It is reported that the Minister Richard Bruton will propose that tax cuts are needed to keep the economy on course. Well, at least this has the virtue of consistency since this is the same Minister who proposed that high-paid company executives should pay hardly any taxes at all. Over the next few months we will get a Goldilocks debate over taxation – is it too hot, is it too cold, is it just right. But there’s an elephant in the room ready to stomp on the poor girl – and this will hardly get a mention.

For we are a low-waged, low-earning economy – and it is getting worse.


According to Eurostat Irish earnings have always been below EU averages. Even in 2008, when Irish earnings peaked, we were still well below average. Today, after four years of wage stagnation, we are falling further behind.

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G8 Optics and Oracles in Fermanagh and Belfast

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On the morning prior to the first day of the 2013 G8 meeting in Fermanagh, BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty admitted to being ‘cynical’ about the thirty-ninth meeting of world powers. The widespread media proclivity for hyping these conclaves and what they might mean for the world is never met by any commensurate action from G8 leaders, she complained. It was a rare moment of media introspection; for all the lavish optical fanfare bestowed on this meeting of the leaders of twelve per cent of the global population, few journalists have either the honesty or temerity to ask questions regarding the role of the media in aggrandising an event that invariably ends with the dampest of squibs.

This role of the media – local, national and international – in facilitating the fabrications of the G8, its narrative of progress, its obfuscation of the substantive facts of world inequalities, is surely the major issue to emerge from this conference. The big issues (war, inequality, taxation) become like tributaries of truth dispersed into a Lough Erne of floating inanities. Headlines scream about the ‘Lockdown’. Countless column inches amplify hysterical predictions about violent protests, mad anarchists, crusty clowns and dissident threats. The provincial naval-gazing of ‘let’s showcase the new Northern Ireland’ trumps the global implications of a small minority stewarding the rest of the world into austerity for the masses and unprecedented wealth for the few.

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Never-Ending Austerity Amidst the Ruins

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Ministers are fond of telling us that we are 80 percent through the dark austerity forest. Soon, maybe within a couple of years, we will enter into the light where all will be well and normal fiscal policy can be resumed. Just one more push and austerity will be no more. Should we put a lot of faith in this? I would recommend caution – extreme caution.

The Government has published a long-term scenario – stretching out to 2019. This builds on the projections up to 2016 in the recent Stability Programme Update. The Government is at pains to state that this is an illustration:

‘Again it must be stressed that this is purely an illustrative scenario.’

They even underlined it. Yet, it is consistent with the Government’s SPU projections and it is certainly consistent with reports of a new plan being developed by the Minister for Finance.

‘The State’s anticipated exit from the bailout this year will not mean a relaxing of austerity targets as Mr Noonan hopes Government will approve a fresh regime with firm timelines similar to the EU-IMF-ECB programme.’

Minister Richard Bruton was also giving a warning:

‘Mr Bruton rejected the accusation that the public had expected the end of the bailout term would signal an easing of austerity by saying no “crock of gold” was available to the Government.’

Mr Bruton suggested that this situation would continue for some time.

So it is worthwhile to look at the Government’s ‘purely illustrative scenario’ as there is a very good chance it will morph into the ‘only scenario’ (TINA will become TIOOS – There is Only One Scenario). Let’s look at primary public expenditure – that is, public expenditure excluding interest. This identifies how much money will be spent on public services, social protection and investment. I have used ‘real’ expenditure – that is, expenditure after inflation using the GDP deflator (the economy wide inflation indicator).

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Applications for Scholarship to NUIM MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism

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Deadline for applications for this scholarship is Monday, July 1 – please circulate

A scholarship covering full course fees for the MA CEESA at Maynooth, awarded on the basis of practitioner excellence in community education, action for equality and / or social movements.

The MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at NUI Maynooth has now completed three very successful years in the course of which we have worked with a wide range of social movement activists and community educators who are using the course to reflect on their own experience, develop their practice and build links across movements with others committed to equality and social justice.

To mark this, and in keeping with the course’s own commitment to equality, we are offering a scholarship for one student entering the course this autumn. The scholarship is named after the Dublin Lockout of 1913, which marks a historical moment in the encounter between social movements and Irish society, and a landmark in struggles for equality. It has also become a key reference point in community education and popular culture.

The 1913 Lockout Memorial scholarship is innovative in form, representing the course’s status as a practitioner course and the University’s commitment to community engagement. Rather than duplicate the various scholarships based on academic criteria, this scholarship is awarded on the basis of practitioner excellence in the field and by a committee comprising both practitioners and scholars in the area.

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Samantha Power – another ‘Good’ Imperialist

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Barack Obama’s nomination of Irish-born academic and writer Samantha Power to the post of US Ambassador to the UN is yet another example of the increasing trend toward ‘humanitarian’ war by the US government’s hawks in sheep’s clothing.

Samantha Power is, at first glance, a poster-girl for the image the Obama administration has sought to convey since 2009: a caring, liberal woman with a deep passion for human rights and a no-nonsense approach to the evil dictators and tyrants of this world. Born in Ireland in 1970, Power emigrated with her parents to the US in 1979. She subsequently lived the quintessential American Dream, an immigrant girl who worked hard in the Land of the Free to rise to the very top of US academic and political life. She was a journalist from 1993 to 1996, working for various US papers, known chiefly for covering the Yugoslav Wars, during which she saw all the horrors of that conflict that instilled in her a lifelong commitment to the cause of human rights and freedoms. America’s liberal intelligentsia rejoiced when she was appointed to the US National Security Council in 2009 – here at last was someone who would bring a morality, a conscience, nay, even a heart to US foreign policy. That’s the well-polished image, anyway. But as so often with such facades, it hides an ugly reality.

Power rose to prominence in 2002 with the release of her book A Problem from Hell, in which she chided the US for its supposed indifference to genocides that took place from Yugoslavia to Rwanda; she asks “why does the US stand so idly by?”. No mention in the book’s 600-odd pages, of course, of the myriad atrocities perpetrated at the behest of the US government and the CIA since the end of World War Two – the mass slaughter of communists in Indonesia in 1965 and 66 by the US-backed Suharto regime, or that country’s savage invasion of East Timor, readily approved by US president Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, one of history’s worst war criminals. No mention of the disastrous UN sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. In fact, not much mention at all of any horrific war crimes and mass killings that were committed with the intention of furthering America’s goals for global hegemony. But of course, one could hardly rise to the top of the US political pyramid by telling the truth.

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As a prelude to a more detailed discussion about the household debt crisis in subsequent posts, I’d like to present a few graphs that should become central to the debate. They come from the data in the Department of Environment’s Housing Statistics. The first measures the growth of average wages between 1991 and 2007 which covers the period of the boom years.


In this period, wages grew by 92 percent (seems like a lot but when inflation is factored in wages grew by about 30 percent, or less than 2 percent annually in real terms).

Now let’s overlay the growth in house building costs.


Interesting. The cost of building a house rose at almost exactly the same pace – 98 percent.

Now let’s overlay the growth in house prices.


Hmmm. House prices rose at the same pace as building costs and average wages up to 1996. After that the gap widens – exponentially. Over the entire period new house prices rose by 379 percent.

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Progressive Film Club Update

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Progressive Film Club Update

Firstly, we would like to thank all of you who supported our recent fundraiser. We didn't get a full house but what we received will help pay off some debts. Unfortunately the screenings coincided with one of the nicest days, so far this year. We would also like to thank all of you who support us with donations throughout the year and who come along to our shows.

We are back again with our normal free screenings and this month we have two shows within a week of each other 😉

Please, please, please note that the screenings are at different venues.

Next Screening:

The Condition of the Working Class
Followed by Q&A with the film makers

Saturday 22nd June 2013 – 3pm
in The New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, D2.

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