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Ireland - A Radical Agenda for Change

Ireland - A Radical Agenda for Change

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Published by: Donal Mac Fhearraigh on Nov 03, 2010
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11/17/2010

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1
By Kieran Allen
 
Socialist Workers Party manifesto 2
A
 
R
ADICAL
A
GENDA FOR
C
HANGE
:
 
N
INE
S
TEPS TO
C
HANGE
 
T THE START OF
2008,
A
SOFT LANDING
was expected afterwhich economic growth was predicted to resume again.However by 2009, Paul Krugman, one of the best known US
economists, was describing Ireland as a ‘worst case scenario’.
Warning the US public through the pages of the
New York Times
 ,he rhetorically asked:How did Ireland get into its current bind? By being justlike us, only more so. Like its near-namesake Iceland,Ireland jumped with both feet into the brave new worldof unsupervised global markets.
1
 A radical change of direction is needed and practical solutionsare required that offer a way out of the crisis.In framing such solutions, our primary concern must be the re-lief of the majority from social suffering. This represents a breakfrom the current official thinking which asks: How do we prop upa business elite even though they helped cause the mess? FiannaFáil ministers such as Noel Dempsey may occasionally use radical
rhetoric and describe some of the bankers as guilty of ‘economictreason’,
2
but the government strategy relies on supporting thesame bankers in the hope that trickle-down economics will workagain. It is necessary to break from this doomed approach. Ifworkers are being asked to clean up the mess, it follows that theirneeds and those of the vulnerable in society must be paramountin framing solutions.Radical solutions also demand that we step beyond the pa-rameters set by a for-profit economy. As long as profit is the sole
A
 
 A Radical Agenda for Change: Nine Steps to Reform
3
motivator of economic activity, we will have to revive balancesheets and dividend payments
before
an economy works again.This means that an even greater proportion of the collective la- bour of society will have to be given to corporations and investors before they choose to create jobs. Even if we do all of that, we can
only hope that they have been sufficiently ‘ince
n
tivised’ by the
lure of high profits to employ people. We cannot
under the logicof a for-profit economy
force them to take on workers or estab-lish new industries and services.The global crisis, however, makes us confront this strangelogic and we should not let our thinking be dominated by mantras
about ‘compet
i
tiveness’ and ‘reducing public spending’. These are
the very mantras which were used to marginalise alternative eco-nomic approaches and led us directly into the current crisis. Indevising solutions we should acknowledge that this is a systemiccrisis which arose from a search for higher rates of profit. Thosepressures led to over-production and a speculative wave of mad-ness in the financial sector, so even if the system revives again, thesame pressures will re-emerge in the future.We need a fundamental change of a system that puts people before profit and growing numbers are seeking this change. Todate, the people of Latin America have been to the fore in chal-lenging the constraints of capitalism. They have elected presidentsand governments who have promised to uproot the legacy of neo-liberalism. These struggles have by no means ended with the elec-tions and a process of deeper radicalisation is also underway. InEurope, a new revival of the workers movement has been devel-oping for some time, particularly in France. This has mainly takena political form rather than being rooted in local industrial strug-gles. Nevertheless, the shift in consciousness to a questioning ofcapitalism and a search for alternatives is serious and substantial.If there was a challenge to the for-profit system in Ireland, itwould most likely take place against a background of other re-volts or incipient revolts.A shift from capitalism to socialism requires a dramatic politi-cal rupture, especially as the current global crash illustrates how

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