Monthly Archives For May 2014

H2Whoa – What We Don’t Know About Water Charges Could Really Hurt Us

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Keep these people in mind when reading this post:  Mary, a single parent working a part-time minimum wage job as a cleaner in Dublin hotel; John, a long-term unemployed construction worker who manages to get a few days’ work a month; Moira and Barry, she lost her job and Barry lost hours – raising two children and falling further into mortgage arrears.  I’ll come back to them at the end of this post.

The Government has finally announced its plans for water charges.  Minister Hogan was on RTE Prime Time and RTE News and provided the following information:  the average single person consumes 78,000 litres of water a year; they will face an average bill of €138 per year.  By taking water expenditure off the books (i.e. it is no longer considered a Government expenditure, it now belongs to a public enterprise company) the Government will save €700 million per year annually (but not next year, I’m assuming).

Apparently, the Government has done its own surveys – it would be helpful if they released this data so we could get a greater insight into consumption patterns for different household types, ages and income-levels; but don’t hold your breath.  So let’s work with what we’ve got (these calculations are different from what appears in the Irish Times – they use average per capita and family household – but they are close enough; these are all just estimates).

It would appear, from the above information, that a litre of water will cost a little less than a 1/3 of a cent per litre (0.0029).  This is derived from 48,000 litres of water that will be billed (the average single person’s consumption of 78,000 minus the free allowance of 30,000).  This comes to about €2.65 per week.

Now let’s look at some issues.

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Basic Income Ireland 2014 Summer Forum

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Basic Income Ireland invites you to our

2014 Summer Forum

A half-day conversation about Basic Income.

Date: Saturday 7 June 2014

Time: 1:00 to 5:00, with informal discussion afterwards

Venue: Carmelite Community Centre – 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2

No charge. Donations/membership subs will be accepted on the day.

Registration: Please register in advance at http://www.basicincomeireland.com/basic-income-2014-summer-forum-signup.html

 A Basic Income is a payment from the state to every resident on an individual basis, without any means test or work requirement.

It would be sufficient to live a frugal but decent lifestyle without supplementary income from paid work.

The idea of Basic Income is being advanced world-wide as part of the solution to the issues facing today’s world.

Come join us to discuss the Basic Income solution and to plan activities for the coming 12 months.

 Programme:

1:00-1:45 Welcome and light lunch

1:45-3:10 Recent developments in Basic Income internationally

Keynote speaker: Yannick Vanderborght, one of the leading figures in the new wave of basic income activists. Professor of Political Science at Saint-Louis University, Brussels; Chair of Regional Coordination Committee of Basic Income Earth Network; co-author with Philippe Van Parijs of L’allocation universelle (2005) and co-editor of Basic income: An anthology of contemporary research (2013) and other books on basic income.

Yannick will speak on transnational cooperation in the campaign for basic income and on recent developments in the theory and politics of basic income. Followed by a participatory discussion.

3:10-3:30 Tea and coffee break

3:30-5:00 Advancing Basic Income in Ireland

Brief presentation and participatory discussion

Afterwards: social gathering in The Swan, Aungier Street.

Further information on basic income is available at basicincomeireland.com and on Facebook – Basic Income Ireland and Twitter: @basicincomeirl.

Register now: http://www.basicincomeireland.com/basic-income-2014-summer-forum-signup.html

Further information: Basic.Income@nuim.ie

Please circulate this notice to your friends and contacts.

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In Defence of China

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This article originally appeared in Jude Woodward’s new blog, New Cold War on the 2nd of May. NCW deals with the USA’s attempts to launch a new Cold War against China. 

The United States has launched a confrontation with China that it is attempting to project as of Cold War dimensions. Its clear aim is to isolate China diplomatically and politically, threaten it militarily, force it to divert investment from the productive economy to military spending, exclude it from world markets and label it a ‘pariah’ state.

In pursuit of this, the US is decisively stepping up its naval and military presence directed at China – the so-called ‘pivot to the Pacific’. It is encouraging China’s neighbours to step up their own military spending and take a more aggressive stance to China. Initiatives like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are aimed at creating huge preferential trade blocs led by the US that specifically exclude China.

The US is trying to isolate China politically, not just at the level of states, but by confusing and dividing those that might otherwise oppose this offensive, particularly through hypocritical and exaggerated campaigns on China’s record on human rights and labour standards and presenting China as aggressive and expansionist when it responds to legitimate security concerns or local challenges.

The core of the US’s re-orientation to contain and confront China is a shift to station 60% of the US’s total naval capacity in the Pacific, the first time since 1945 that the majority of US forces will have been out of the Atlantic-Mediterranean arena.

To facilitate this the US has won agreement to a new base in Australia, up-graded its Guam facilities, negotiated with Japan to stay on in Okinawa, is building a major new base in South Korea, and has agreed with the Philippines that its ex-base at Subic Bay is once more at the disposal of the US navy. It has sold a new raft of arms to Taiwan, upped its deal for F-16s with Indonesia, strengthened its military alliance with Japan and encouraged the other countries surrounding China to re-arm.

The fundamental question that this American policy towards China poses is what position should the left, the anti-war movement and progressive forces world-wide take on the confrontation?

The answer should be crystal clear – to defend China against this imperialist offensive.

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James Connolly Memorial Lecture, 2014, Sat 10th of May, Liberty Hall

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THE INTER-IMPERIALIST WAR,

1914-18
Not a shared sacrifice but a bloody slaughter

Speaker

DANIEL BRATANOVIC

Saturday 10th May, 2 pm

Liberty Hall, Dublin 1

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dublin | Baile Átha Cliath
Sunday 11 May, 3 p.m.
Annual James Connolly Commemoration
1916 martyrs’ graves, Arbour Hill Military Cemetery
Oration by CPI
Guest speaker: Robert Ballagh (Artist & activists)
All welcome

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Trying to Learn from What Works

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This article was originally posted on Socialist Economic Bulletin on Sunday May the 4th.

Facts can be a very severe judge. Either economic structures, the models used to explain them and economic policies work, or they don’t. The factual verdict alone can determine who was right, what was successful, what economic system works best.

The chart below is reproduced from The Economist. It shows the change in the IMF’s own estimates and forecasts of the level of US and Chinese GDP. Previously the IMF’s projections were that China would surpass the US as the world’s largest economy in 2019. Its revised estimates are that this will now occur at the end of this year. From 2015 onwards, when anyone refers to the world’s largest economy this will be China, not the US.

Chart 1. IMF Estimates & Projections of US & China GDP, PPP $ trillions

Econ_Primacy

By any standards, this is a momentous economic event. The leading position in the world economy does not change with great frequency. The US surpassed China’s GDP at some time around 1890, having already overtaken Britain in in 1872. (The Financial Times is incorrect to place this earlier data as the key turning-point – it seems to have ignored China altogether).

In this sense the current reversal is a return to the norm. China’s economy, with a population of 1.3 billion people should be larger than the US. At the same, this higher population level means that per capita GDP is still much below countries like Britain or the US, although this gap too is narrowing rapidly.

As a result, it would be foolish to argue Britain should ‘copy’ China. Different geographies, different relationships with the world economy, different histories and different levels of current economic development would make that an impossibility.

But the Chinese economy has delivered exceptionally strong growth, and grown much more rapidly than the Western economies over a very prolonged period. In 30 years of the process of reform and opening up from 1978 to 2008 it has raised average living standards from the British level of the 15th century to the same as Britain in 1948. No doubt the advance since 2008 has been equally impressive (probably to something like the early 1960s in Britain).

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The Little Elections

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after The League of Gentlemen

 

Unlike all other candidates,

 I’m very much in favour of dog shit;

have it with everything;

am especially fond of the sort produced by

frightened Rottweilers.

I have the energy, enthusiasm and necessary

sexual appetite to properly

service the people behind doors

I’m knocking on locally.

I’m for more traffic jams

and overweight policemen called

Frank.

I won’t be diverted into talking

about abortion or world war four.

This is a little election for little people.

I’m against nasal congestion

and political reform; have lived locally

for the past half hour.

DDD

Our eight year old, Cian,

will support whatever football team

you want him to. I’m against

adverse weather conditions in Salthill;

okay, in theory, with the continued

existence of black people.

I’ve studied transport systems

at Mauthausen, Belzec, Vorkuta; think I know

how to ensure two Ballybane buses

never again come along at once.

DDD

KEVIN HIGGINS

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The May Issue of Socialist Voice is out now

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The May issue of Socialist Voice is out now. View it online or download it from here.

Table of contents:

Vote communist

……. The CPI is aware that no real power or democracy is left at the local government level, that real power lies with the unelected city and county managers, who take their orders and priorities from the minister of the day. The party is using the occasion of these elections to present an alternative way out of the crisis, one centred on the needs of the people and not the EU and IMF and the wealthy Irish ruling class.

The death rattle of the establishment’s independence [EMC]

The recent visit by President Michael D. Higgins to Britain turned into a feast of craven boot-licking by the Irish establishment and their hangers-on. It was trumpeted by the mass media and the ideological soothsayers as the “coming of age,” the “maturing” of the Irish people regarding our past and the historical relationship between the Irish people and the British establishment.

Díspeagadh déistineach [CDF]

Níorbh díspeagadh go dtí é ar throdaithe saoirse na hÉireann i 1916 agus na blianta ina dhiaidh páirtíocht Enda Kenny sa gheamaireacht i Messines na Beilge i mí na Nollag agus arís feacadh glúine bhunaíocht na tíre le linn phornagrafaíocht ríoga na míosa seo caite.

Where are Britain’s interests best served? [TMK]

Alone among Northern Ireland’s unionist leaders, the first minister, Peter Robinson, appears willing to accept reality and recognise the developing nature of the area’s political make-up.

Michael Ahern

The Communist Party of Ireland offers its condolences to the family and friends of our comrade Mick Ahern, who died on Thursday 3 April, and in particular to his wife and comrade Julie. Mick dedicated his life to the broad republican struggle,

Dearg le fearg!” [CDF]

The resignation of the language commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, in protest against the lack of co-operation he found in the state system, not to mention the virtual refusal by some official bodies to comply with the law, has been the catalyst in a vigorous grass-roots language rights campaign.

Water is a human right [EMC]

As the debate continues about the charge the Government may finally set for water, what is missing is an appreciation of water as a basic human need. Once the Government has commodified water, the basic human right to have access to clean water will be turned into a means of creating vast profits for private corporations.

Labour movement news 
The Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union welcomed the report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that assessed the Government’s “Action Plan for Jobs,” particularly its warning that more must be done to tackle youth unemployment.

Youth view

This is the talk given by the CYM speaker at the meeting “Youth Resistance in Ireland” held in James Connolly House on Saturday 26 April.

Victory Day (Dick Gaughan)

On 9 May each year the defeat of German fascism in 1945 is celebrated. The following song, written by Dick Gaughan, was inspired by the poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “Do you think the Russians stand for war?”

Roque Dalton: Tragic communist poet [TMS]

Roque Dalton (1935–1975) was perhaps the most tragic poet of Central America. In the 1950s he was the brightest of the “Committed Generation,” a group of militant left-wing writers who saw art as a revolutionary act.

Caracas Festival of Theatre a great success [DP]

With more than 649 shows, 152 groupings and 26 public theatres, the Third Caracas Festival of Theatre took over the capital city last month in an expression of popular culture that surpassed all expectations.

Third annual essay competition on the Spanish Anti-Fascist War

The third annual essay competition on the Spanish Anti-Fascist War for second-level pupils in Ireland is now open. The winner will be invited to read their essay in Madrid at the commemoration in February 2015 of the battle of Jarama, accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Letter: “Manifesto to the Citizens of Dublin” [RCN]

The Liam & Tom O’Flaherty Society is searching for the Manifesto issued by a 120-strong group of unemployed who seized the concert hall at the Rotunda (today’s Gate Theatre) in an effort to highlight the apathy of the authorities towards unemployment in the newly founded Republic of Ireland, 19–22 January 1922.

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Marxists and the National Question

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The recent sharpening of national rivalries between Russia and Ukraine brings to the forefront the national question. This is certainly only an episode in the chain of national rivalries the capitalist globalization stimulates, by widening inequalities between nations and within each nation. It was preceded by national crises in Yugoslavia, in regions of the former USSR and also in many other parts of the globe.

Marxists became intensely interested in the national question in the late 19th and early 20th century, when capitalism was passing to its imperialist stage. Particularly Kautsky, Bauer, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky dealt extensively with it. Their analyses, which we will briefly summarize here, are quite interesting with regard to contemporary problems.

Kautsky, Bauer, Luxemburg, Trotsky

Kautsky, in a series of articles and in his work Nationality and Transnationality (Nationalität and Internationalität, 1908) analyzed in particular the establishment of European nation states after 1848. While Bauer was emphasizing the common traditions (language, national identity, customs, etc.) to explain ethnogenesis and support his idea of ??national – cultural autonomy, Kautsky stressed that the formation of modern nations and nation states had mainly economic reasons: the need to develop a unified capitalist market, which was certainly facilitated by the existence of common traditions. So the nation state was the norm in the period of free competition, while multi-ethnic states were remnants of feudalism or exceptions. This meant that the creation of new states that characterized European history during this period, through the wars for national independence and self-determination (the national revolutions of 1848, the struggles for national unification of Italy, national revolutions and wars in the Balkans, etc.) had a progressive and historically necessary character.

From this starting point, Kautsky developed a valid polemic against Bauer’s positions, held also by a number of other Austrian Marxists (Adler, Renner, et al). The latter envisioned a peaceful, reformist regulation of national contradictions within existing transnational feudal states such as the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire, through the central power granting a genuine national autonomy (teaching of national language, freedom of national culture) to their constituent nationalities. In a letter to Victor Adler Kautsky declared such a prospect to be utopian:

“In Austria of all places, a gradual approach to some solution or other is unthinkable. The only cure lies in complete collapse. That Austria still exists is to me not proof of its viability, nor yet evidence that we now have the political basis for a slow and peaceful development; all it proves is that bourgeois society is no longer capable of doing away with even the most rotten structures: the Sultan, Tsarism, Austria”.

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