All in this together?
On Wednesday 24 November we learnt that "Securing Ireland's Future" involves cuts to the minimum wage and a moralised attack on social welfare. This vision of 'security' provides yet another illustration of the gap between what is being done to society in Ireland in this crisis, and what the government and their newly minted overlords would have us believe.
For quite a while, public discourse in Ireland has featured a remarkable set of supposed truths, factoids and invitations to passivity: the country is broke; we are where we are; there are no alternatives; the pain will be shared fairly; there's no time for negativity we need positivity; moving forward, we must be mature and take the pain. We're all in this together.
But we are not all in this together. If we continue to be guided by the thinking of the people who created this crisis while escaping the brunt of it, our destination 'going forward' is the edge of a cliff.
Over the last days the status of the budget has shifted from being presented as an adjustment necessary to the maintenance of 'sovereignty' to an exercise central to a smooth transition to post-sovereignty. The irrational adherence to deflationary measures since 2008 has not worked, but now the toxic cocktail of faith-based neoliberalism and Fianna Fáil/Green incompetence has been extended through the terms demanded by the IMF, ECB and European Commission. The IMF is now presented as a strict parent, or neutral fixer, or, for those who know these letters spell trouble, as an organization that has 'changed' and become so much nicer. However the IMF has barely had time for pints in Doheny and Nesbitts before they began insisting on the vicious, failed orthodoxies they have inflicted on countries in the Majority World for decades.
To compound the political and actual bankruptcy involved in transferring bank losses to Irish society in 2008, a 'bailout' is being negotiated which will commit generations of people in Ireland to compensating European banks, and 'bond-holders' whose macho celebrations of 'risk-taking' are now curiously muted. This will impoverish and immiserate thousands of people in Ireland for many years, and it will not work. Society in Ireland is about to become collateral damage in the rush to stick a plaster on a wider, systemic crisis.
We need to mobilise and act to prevent this from happening, and there are signs that anger and dismay is turning to protest and resistance. As a contribution to this, a network of civil society groups, activists, bloggers, journalists and academics are organising a week-long 'budget jamming' from December 1 through to budget day.
Hosted here on Politico.ie, we aim to contest as ferociously as possible the myth that 'there is no alternative'. The week long intervention will be organised around contesting 5 key myths: The country is broke; We're all in this together; There is no alternative; We have to move on, going forward; The tough love of the IMF is going to set us on the straight and narrow.
The week will provide key analyses of what is going on and what the myths ignore, an ongoing monitoring and intervention in public debate, and a space for bringing together alternative ideas and visions that reject a narrow, cynical claim to the 'national interest'.
Please read, comment link and tweet, but better still get involved. We are not looking for political or ideological unity. The only thing we are looking for is cold rage put to good use, and that you never believed in David McWilliams' 'wonder bra' theory of the economy.
Email us, and get involved. In a country where politicians claim to secure the future just as they do their best to abolish it, we have to make a start somewhere.