Kevin Morley challenges John Coulter's view of Sinn Fein's economic policies.
I was intrigued to read in The Pensive Quill the assertion written by a Dr John Coulter regarding Sinn Fein’s economic policy and how it may play into the hands of Boris Johnson.
This is, of course, more scaremongering by the bourgeois press and their reporters of who, I understand Dr Coulter is one. He claims the policy advocated by Sinn Fein would “ruin the economy” thus making the 26 counties economically dependent on the so-called United Kingdom. In short he envisages we would have to go to the UK, cap in hand, for money, which is crap. He goes on to unreliably inform us that their policies, especially their economic policy, has more in common with “North Korea” and would turn Ireland into such a state. More scaremongering propaganda.
Firstly, how does the would-be informed doctor know how North Koreas economy operates? We are constantly told, by the same bourgeois media, North Korea is highly secretive and authoritarian. If this country is so secretive how does the doctor know so much about it? He cannot say whether their economy is good or bad simply because, if reports are correct, nobody can gain access to the place due to the high level of secrecy to find out. Perhaps Dr Coulter has been inside North Korea. Such a task would be above his pay scale it would be imagined but there you go, gained access to all the country’s economic policy which is top secret, and was then given leave to come and tell us all about it! Could this be how he knows Sinn Fein’s economic policy would ruin the Irish economy? The truth is Dr Coulter knows no more about the internal workings of North Korea, economic or otherwise, than anybody else. He just wants us all to believe he does.
He then continues to tell us the party’s economics would ruin us. What he really means is the rich man’s economy, for once would have to pay a little more, the dozen or so billionaires who really benefit from free market economics would have to cough up a little. Is he really suggesting or expecting us to believe an economic policy which provides beds for our sick, homes for those presently on the streets would break the bank? Is that what he is trying to convince us of? Is he telling us Sinn Fein are trying to introduce socialist economics into Ireland and this would ruin us? He reckons our economy – which is not our economy at all, it belongs to the Irish bourgeoisie and it is they, not the majority of us, who may fear having to pay for the first time their taxes – could not sustain a health service worthy of the name. If that is the case perhaps we should re-examine our assumption that we are a developed country!
The fact is, it is not the case. Large transnational companies, like Apple who, I understand, owe this state billions but Fine Gael have been afraid to go after them. They are terrified of upsetting these conglomerates no matter how much the money is needed, and how much they owe. They have hidden behind the smokescreen of such firms providing employment, and if they, the Fine Gael Government – propped up by Fianna Fail – go after such companies as Apple, they may pull out of the country costing people’s jobs. What they are saying is that it is alright for the democratically elected government to be economically blackmailed by Apple! That money could go a long way towards providing houses for people, funding local authorities or employing Nurses and Doctors in our Health Service.
I suppose Dr Coulter would have us all believe going after monies owed by large powerful corporations is too risky. Why could that be? In fact, such companies, it can only be imagined by using Dr Coulter’s argument, are bigger than the elected government of a country? Why then do we not hand over all power to Apple? The fact is the government is here, be it Fine Gael or/and Fianna Fail are there to govern and for the benefit of Irish capitalism, the same capitalism which has O’Connell Street acting as an open-aired hostel for the homeless every night. The same capitalism which cannot provide for the health of the people and, when a party comes along with a set of ideas which challenge the status quo, they would break the country!
Dr Coulter continues to inform us that the same, or similar policies were rejected recently by the British electorate as they rejected Jeremy Corbyn. Firstly, that was a British election, ball all to do with us. Secondly, and very importantly, that election was lost by the British Labour Party MPs back in 2017. If the right-wing – one of the problems with broad church parties – of the British Labour Party had spent as much time trying to get Corbyn into Number 10, as they did trying to keep him not only out of Downing Street but out of their own party leaders office, promoting Labour in 2017 then Corbyn may well have won that election and the present situation avoided. It was elements of the Labour Party themselves in 2017 which cost them the election. The truth was those right wingers, Stephen Kinnock, Margaret Hodge and many others (remember Kinnock's dad, Neil, when he was Labour leader betrayed the NUM back in 1984/85) did not want Jeremy Corbyn in government, just like Dr Coulter does not want Sinn Fein in government here.
He then goes on to, wrongly, inform us that Sinn Fein’s policies are Marxist! Well, they are not, mores the pity. The policies advocated by Sinn Fein are pro-capitalist and certainly not revolutionary. All they are asking is the ruling elite pay a little more towards the nation’s health and housing. Is this really, as Dr Coulter implies, too much to ask? Remember when the crisis within capitalism hit us back in 2008? Workers were told, “in the national interest” to take a pay cut or wage freeze. The proletariat, foolishly in my view, accepted this burden in “the national interest” with little moaning. It is true what James Connolly once commented, the only true “patriots are the working-class”. Now, in the “national interest” with people living on the streets, and a health service barely worthy of the name, can the ruling classes not show the same patriotism instead of threatening or implying they may leave the country. The first time their “country needs them” – and it is their country, it is they who own the wealth, the means of production, distribution and exchange – they threaten to turn tale and run, supported by people like Dr Coulter.
There is no mention in Sinn Fein’s policies of redefining the relationship between worker and the means of production, no mention of the common ownership, a fundamental part of Marxism. There is no mention of abolishing private property, or the nationalisation of the banks, so where does he get his assertion that Sinn Fein’s policies come straight from the pages of “Karl Marx” and/or “Leon Trotsky”. Sinn Fein’s policies are, by the standards of the day in bourgeois politics, radical, but they are not Marxist and certainly not revolutionary. Sinn Fein know, as Harold Wilson found out, the ruling class will allow them to go “so far and no further” which is why socialism in its entirety cannot come about through parliamentary elections. Salvador Allende found this out, to his eternal cost, in Chile.
Dr Coulter claims Sinn Fein are apologists for the actions of the Provisional IRA. So, what if they are or they are not. Obviously the man has no recollections of Bombay Street and other areas of Belfast burnt out by loyalist/fascist thugs. It was the emergence of the Provisionals on the scene which prevented these pogroms becoming mass ethnic cleansing. Whatever your opinions of PIRA after then, the fundamental truth remains that they defended Short Strand and stopped the pogroms. Just to finish, Dr Coulter is an apologist for failed capitalist economic policies, but what Sinn Fein are advocating is not socialism based on economic planning, no mention of that. They are promoting a mixed economy, perhaps an injection of Keynesianism in one respect, which will include a nationalised health service, with care free “at the point of need”. This is nothing more radical than what Clement Attlee enacted in the UK, 1945/51. Nothing more radical than that but even these mild reforms appear too much for the correspondent, Dr Coulter. To even suggest these policies would break the Irish economy then it is either not in the great shape we are told it is, or, it is incapable of supporting the health and wellbeing of its population! Don’t listen to this man and others like him, not if you want to see a Doctor the next time you visit a hospital!
Kevin Morley, writer, activist, author of A Descriptive History of the Irish Citizen Army & Striking Similarities & The Misogynous President.