The Coming Reality Of Austerity Ireland

With the Stormont House Agreement remaining policy for the Six-County administration and with the South still in the grip of the Troika’s viscious austerity programme, Sean Bresnahan – Secretary of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh and National PRO of the 1916 Societies – identifies the likely consequences of continuing with this failed agenda, arguing the need to build an alternative that puts the Irish people first in line.

Out of 14,000 mile of high-speed rail around the world, incredibly, not one yard of it is in the United States – a country where neoliberal austerity was introduced as continuing economic policy over 30 years ago by the Reagan White House. Stateside the ordinary man has become poorer and poorer, its middle class has to all intents and purposes disappeared, with the few that are wealthy becoming extremely wealthy.

We can see from the example of America, in the years since the boul’ Ronnie first took the oath of office, that austerity is at its core about transferring wealth from the rank of the commonwealth to the elite – pure and simple. Its purpose is to prop up an ailing system which for years has kept the rich-man high on the hog at the expense of ourselves, the ordinary people.

In the US public spending on infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, rail, the power grid etc – has been decimated to feed the parasites on Wall Street, to the extent that the nation’s prosperity is now imperilled. Ranked a lowly 25th in the world when it comes to quality of infrastructure, with the UK ranked alongside at 24th, we can see what austerity offers our children and our children’s children going forward – a worsening collapse of society as we know it, while the blood-sucking leeches of the 1 percent continue to party, immune to such trite concerns.

This is what’s been happening in the US over the last 30 years, a country that once led the way in terms of such statistics and other socio-economic indicies, and this is what will happen here too if we allow it. It is already happening. We can sit back and allow the ‘Washington Consensus’-style austerity agenda of Britain, the Troika and their allies to destroy the life prospects of the Irish people – to dismantle existing provisions for public health, education and welfare to fund predatory crony-capitalism – or we can join as one to do something about it.

The problem in Ireland is not a lack of resources or wealth but how the above are managed and what system dictates how they are managed. We have everything we need to be a successful economy and an example to other countries and peoples, bar that is a proper understanding of the reigning economic narrative, the fiat monetary system which underpins it and how this keeps a country like ours held down to serve the interests of the rich (that breed of vultures who conduct their affairs from the Square Mile in the City of London).

None of us are free until we rout these gangsters from their position.

An artificial and powerless political arrangement as that here in this country, where the means of supply, distribution and exchange are beyond the people and lie with a controlling elite and their gombeen henchmen, leaves us in reality with two simple choices – suck it up and continue to take a pounding or build an alternative arrangement, one that serves people over profit, in which the matters at hand can be suitably tackled.

What we need is a new republic in full control of its own resources and with constitutional guarantees that preserve that control on a permanent basis, so they can be exploited for the betterment of people not corporate interests. We need a democratically-ordered Ireland with inalienable protections that ensure people, not the profit-margins of big business, are first in line as of right. Such a republic is in our grasp if we would only demand what is ours.

Could Ireland feed itself, could it clothe its people? Could it build the furniture we sit on, sleep in and eat at? Could it manufacture its own technologies, build its own motor vehicles, engineer the infrastructure required for a 21st century economy? If not why not? Of course it can. We can do all these things and more if we worked together to build a country fitting of our children and that is the task that should exercise our collective minds rather than honouring this odious austerity.

The idea austerity is an unavoidable necessity, required to address and bring us into line with economic reality, is merely a means to hide the truth, that we simply don’t need it and in no way will it ever be in our interest. No. It is in the interests of the money-masters and a necessity only for them, to keep the merry-go-round protecting their unearned and privileged position spinning.

It’s time this farce was ended.

With a rising national consciousness taking root among our kinship, the appetite for an alternative to the status quo, as it exists today in Ireland, grows all the while. That alternative is a sovereign, democratic republic as envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation, a republic whose socio-economic vision is as that of the revolutionary First Dáil, a republic in which austerity will be banished to the annals of history as a social anachronism from days long gone.

Together we must build the struggle for national liberation to make that republic a reality. I say to those who stand in our way, in those timeless words of the martyred Padraig Pearse, beware the thing that is coming, beware the risen people. The days of austerity and those who gave us this dastardly, obscene reality, as those who facilitate and prop it up in return for political position, will soon be at an end.


  1. Dreary stuff indeed Sean. You should thank AM profusely for allowing this guff on his blog. The need for an alternative to the neo-liberal domination of the west requires something inspirational not more of this leftist propaganda. Ireland to build its own cars! Paddywagons! China with all its trillions has to buy western comapnies to acquire the tech and skill set to make a modern car worth buying, how will Ireland do that? But you know that, you can say what you want safe in the knowledge that leftist republicans will never see power. You are preaching to the small number of the converted here, next it will be tractor factories and five year plans. And then tie it all in with a few references to "the proclamation" and "struggle". The left on this island really is going nowhere.

  2. Sean you talk around austerity instead of dealing with what it actually is : realigning public spending with public revenues without debt. You would prefer people to fall for this rich vs poor stuff. The rich, the management class, the business owners etc, love money sloshing around the economy (if we put it your terms, it’s the source of there ill gotten gains), they certainly would be most against drains on public wealth .Its a pyramidal system Sean, less will accrue at the top, and they might be taxed to make up falls in public finances. How then can you possibly square that with your claim that the rich want to inflict this on the poor? I dont know you will, but easier to make people fall for with by dehumanising terms likes vultures and leeches. Much like Israelis talking of Palestinians as cockroaches?

  3. Great post Sean. Thank You. Vote for change on May the 7th 2015 vote Workers Party. If they are not running in your consistency vote for any candidate on the Left who generally will be a strong advocate for the Working class.

    Remembering actions speak louder than lip service weasel words about equality, poverty, housing, homeless, job creation from Stormonts Poltical establishment who are implementing british tory cuts no matter how they deny it, deflect it via their public relations exercises.

    Do not let these corporate poltical thespians confuse you into blindly voting along religious tribal lines.

    The top five political establishment parties at stormount are following Harry Trumans old saying about getting elected and maintaining poltical power and doing a particulary good job of it to be fair.

    “If you can’t convince ‘em, confuse ‘em: if you can’t confuse ‘em, scare ‘em.”

    Followed by the imfamous who song by The who. "WE WONT GET FOOLED AGAIN"

    Listen to it and have a little think about what stormount has delivered for ordinary people.

  4. Sean, it is good that you are looking at these issues and realities rather than simply the merits of the 1916 Proclamation. I have been in the states a few times and was honestly shocked at the condition on the inside and the age of lifts in sky scrapers there and of the rickety state of the transport system. On reflection I don't know why. The American dream is a couple of hundred years old, like the buildings.

    Something common to us all is corruption. We have had the EU money pumped into this place for several decades now and there isn't even a connection from Dublin to the Airport. Roads built at sever times the estimated cost and toll systems not collecting taxes for maintenance of the highway but going into private individuals pockets. Gangsters in the Dail and at council level were not being held to account or audited by Brussels deliberately. It was the understood price being paid for centralisation of powers away from governments in the EU. Now we are going to pay for water in a country that gets rain 365 days per year. AND WE WILL PAY.

    Ireland (26 counties)has had 100 years to evolve into a socialist state which could look after the mere 4,000,000 people living in it. There has been no serious attempt to do so. Reflect upon that. It is perhaps why the Irish had such a lasting love affair with the USA. There is no desire in this country for a Scandinavian type system. The Mary Harneys of this world and I suspect the Mary Lou MCDonalds also, have private insurance schemes up their sleeves for our futures.

    Ireland has not attempted to become a Honk Kong or a Singapore of Europe. Peter is correct. We sold our natural assets from fishing to oil to outside interests for a quick buck. Outside technology firms take advantage of a low tax rate. This will be dented by the wee six when they follow suit levelling up the playing field. It is the lazy way out by political self servers who have no brains but very loud mouths. Along with an eye for manipulating the fools.

    Those with a little more cop-on and a genuine wish for a better life don't hang around here waiting for scoundrels to see the light and provide it for them, the take off in search of it themselves.

    100 years after 1916 instead of harping on about what may have been take a look at where we are and where all our bright kids are flocking to. My mate here is a Shinner, his two sons got visas for Canada last week and are away to it next week. Does that tell you anything?

  5. Peter,
    Dreary is equally applicable to your post.
    Neo liberal economics is an economic policy designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor.
    What is wrong with being opposed to that?
    Mocking people politics in favour of those being rolled out by the petty bourgeoisie hardly a comforting reality.

  6. DaithiD,

    realigning public spending with public revenues without debt

    Did Gene Kerrigan not describe that very suggestion as one of the big lies that the rich and their backers have put about as a means of deflecting criticism away from their ruinous economic policies?

    Greed driven cultures invariably produce what is happening in Ireland at present.

  7. AM, who is Gene Kerrigan? What skill set does he bring to the issues at hand, or does he start from a political angle and work backwards? Do you suspect his biases are the same as yours so you forgive them?
    I don’t see the issue as a rich/poor thing in terms of ruinous policies. Do you think the rich people in Iceland are unusually benevolent in helping their economy from the brink of the abyss, compared to the rich Irish? Is it more a single currency issue?
    I don’t know whether greed driven cultures inevitably produce this outcome, I do think public spending should factor in the business cycle as a minimum to insure against this sort of thing.And I do think everything that Sean is advocating (making housing an electoral issue etc) ,and Ciarans article from before, will take us exactly back to this point again in the future.

  8. DaithiD,

    he is a columnist at the Irish Independent who has authored a number of books including one on austerity. Whether he brings authority or not is a matter for you or others to decide but he nails the lies brilliantly in a range of areas. He would not share your bias towards the rich but that would not render him lacking in substance.

    Greed is ruinous and capitalism is a greed driven enterprise. People in the public service wanting a decent wage is hardly on a par with the perspective of those who own millions.

    Other than Iceland doing good deals on buy one get one free, I know little else about it!

  9. Fionnuala

    There is nothing wrong with being oppsed to neo-libralism. Oh that there was more of it. My problem is that the left all over the world is struggling to successfully oppose it. Syriza and Podemos are making some inroads in Greece and Spain by being radical and speaking to a new generation of austerity sufferers in a language that they understand. The left in the UK and Ireland simply trot out the same old bullshit full of marxist cliches and nobody is listening. Left republicans on this island are pitiful in their rhetoric and thinking, Sean's piece is a prime example. Where are the new ideas? The new rhetoric? When will someone articulate a position that will inspire the people? Micro groups that waffle about "revolution" and "the proclamation" will stay micro groups.

  10. AM, Iceland was the basket case economy, perhaps the fact we don’t hear much of it anymore is quite telling. With regards to Gene Kerrigan, all I could find on him was a Wikipedia entry saying he wrote for some socialist review. Im afraid in this regard we have to disagree, not all views have substance, lesser still those not actually involved in finance. An analogy would be writing a book review without reading the actual book, only other peoples reviews. In my field of work, I have to discriminate information all the time, how close people are to the coal face is simple one. There may be a debate on certain policies efficacy, when I hear people conduct in terms of the rich screwing the poor, its kind of a red flag the person isn’t serious.

  11. DaithiD,

    and I take opposite view. In my view anybody saying the rich don't screw the poor is not to be taking seriously. Like saying politicians don't lie

  12. Peter,

    `There is nothing wrong with being opposed to neo-liberalism.'

    Indeed Peter there is nothing wrong with being opposed to anything. In this instance however the opposition rails against an economic system who's dynamics it doesn't appear to fully understand or cares to ignore. We cannot change the essence of man's inherent self interest.

  13. AM,take another field : I would think you have a refined view of Republicansim, both theoretical and emprirical observations. How would you weight this emprirical aspect? Its the fusion of these two aspects that give rise to substance, most writers just have a theoretical understanding (and thats being very generous to some of them).

  14. DaithiD,

    weight what empirical aspect?

  15. AM, you as a member of the Republican Movement, spending nearly two decades in jail, 4(?) years on the Blanket and having met all the key movers in the movement. You could form an analysis from direct observation, and all the source material from the Boston Archives which few would be privy to. These empirical observations must be a crucial component of your knowledge, and would surely trump those that had only read books . (Im trying to draw an analogy between this and those that work in the financial sphere.)

  16. DaithiD,

    participant observation comes with serious weaknesses.

    History is often written from a great distance in time and where participant observation on the part of the historian is not possible. It is not invalidated because of that.

    And the people who experience the cruelty of the rich have lived it. Of course the rich will tell us lots of good things about themselves and how they work for the betterment of society rather than to sate their own greed.

    There is a wealth of historical date and experience out there for anyone interested in it.

  17. AM, but very few have access to both spheres. The phrase "johnny come lately" has been thrown around enough times on this site (not by yourself), so either experience counts or it doesnt.

  18. DaithiD,

    experience always counts. It would be a strange case to make - that experience does not count. The experience of the poor being screwed by the rich counts for quite a lot.

    And often people view their experience through the lens of ideology, institutional culture, and so on. So what we claim to have experienced will always be a subject of further exploration and delving into the mediating factors as to how experience is actually experienced.

    Ian Duncan Smith's view of what the experience of poverty is would be vastly different form a homeless person in Camden.

  19. Ian Duncan Smith's view of what the experience of poverty is would be vastly different form a homeless person in Camden.

    Im not so sure, unless you presume the homeless person thinks his experience is standard. But you are right about poverty being relative, I think those Ethiopians on those sinking boats would be surprised what we call poverty in the West. You are typing on a computer, connected to the internet. These things are just standard to most of us these days, but their dispersal and adoption are products of capitalist endeavour. You can focus on the margins, and measure an economic model by its inequities, but it smacks of that Python sketch “what have the Romans ever done for us?”.

  20. DaithiD,

    how many impoverished people do you know who agree with IDS on their poverty and the means to address it?

    Much of life is relative: But when food poverty and fuel poverty exist in the midst of plenty, pointing to Ethiopians as being in a worse situation is not going to cut the mustard. The theorists of the development of underdevelopment might have something useful to say about why the Ethiopians are in the situation they are in.

    There is no doubt that in the drive to sate the greed of the rich capitalism is very productive. Socialism or what passes for it has never been able to match the productive potential of capitalism. But is endless growth and the terrible inequality it produces what we want?

  21. Unfortunately missed my own post, been back-and-forward from the hospital on a daily basis the past three weeks. Coming to this one late then but I don't understand where you're coming from on this at all David. The idea austerity is about balancing the books is a massive con. Let's just take the US on its own - $17 trillion in debt. Be some austerity programme to sort that balance sheet I tell ye. Austerity is about transferring real wealth - not worthless paper - to the elite, it is an ideologically-driven attack on ordinary people. Not because the rich feel compelled by nature to hurt others but because the system from which they profit cannot be sustained otherwise. Maybe you doubt there are such things as a 1 percent, I don't know. Was surprised at your comments

  22. Sean, real wealth is what exists and has value. Austerity is not a transfer of real wealth, it's a position on future spending of revenues that are probably going to be received . Haha I wasn't going to comment further, in trying to defeat AM I over extended myself , went out if my comfort zone if simplicity,and had my arse handed to me. It's not a pretty read for me!

  23. DaithiD,

    it seems to me you did alright with your argument. I just don't agree with it.

    On austerity, I think it very much is a redistribution of real wealth. If you look at the figures for the distribution of the national income under austerity how does an increasing percentage go to capital and a lesser percentage to Labour as compared with pre-austerity times.

    There is no doubt that austerity works but for who? Torture works too but not for the tortured.

  24. David, absolutely real wealth exists and has value but the idea austerity does not relate to its transfer, from the ordinary 5' 8" to the 1 percent, is a different matter entire. Austerity is the justification used for doing so - we're all in this together. Yeah right. Austerity cannot balance the books or reconcile revenue streams with the mountain of debt the current monetary system is carrying and adding to, this is not its purpose. The real purpose, at least in my view, is to shape the ideological narrative so the limited gains of the left over the last 50 years can be reversed. This is not a new phenomenon. The notion of radically restructuring economies to serve the needs of big business has been about for decades and applied across a range of mostly developing countries. Now they are bringing it home. Why? Because they've nothing left to offer. We need real change in how our economies are managed and chief among that which needs to go is the fiat monetary system

  25. Just on the subject of Iceland, there's a very good reason we hear little of it. Right now in that country the National Parliament is debating monetary reform and the notion of removing control of the money supply from high finance in good old London Town. And not just the money supply but how money in fact is created. It's only when we realise the process of creating money of itself engenders debt - which in turn becomes an instrument of control over the loanee - that we can in turn realise public spending cannot in fact be aligned to public revenues without debt, as originally suggested. The reason I make my points around sovereignty is not because I constant,y hark back to 1916 as Larry regularly suggests, it's because sovereignty is the core issue. Thus why Iceland, a country who jailed the bankers and politicians, is now talking about instituting a 'Sovereign Monetary System' - which places the money supply and its creation under the democratic control of the constitution. Are they harking after 1916? Neither am I and I never have done

  26. AM,I thought Sean draws the distinction between worthless paper and other wealth? But I am veering into hyperbole, the unprovable stuff I hammer other people for.

  27. David, do you know how fractional reserve banking works? The paper is worthless - it's an IOU. The debt and the concomitant obligation 'money' creation engenders - mostly now through electronic transfer without the actual paper being brought into physical circulation - is exploited to hoover up the real wealth - physical properties such as land, housing, utilities and resources, whether by privatisation, repossession or 'restructuring the economy'. It's a giant Ponzi scheme

  28. Sean, if your understanding of fractional banking is that bank create money out of thin air, insert into their balance sheets, and then buy 'real' assets with that money, then maybe ive misunderstood it.Is that your view?