It's budget day tomorrow and people are all screaming and shouting.... "Not me!" We're all looking out for our lot, trying as best we can to maintain some of the material wealth we have become accustomed to. Of course, some of us have become accustomed to greater levels of material wealth than others. By Seamus Bradley
Some level of concern for our personal well-being is necessary if we are to continue to exist but such a scenario has been superimposed on us rather than it being our choosing.
The capitalist economic system is premised on competition. As businesses compete for market share so we as consumers are forced to offer our labour in order to survive. Similarly, the goods and services produced by the system are offered in a marketplace in which we must yet again compete with our neighbours.
Although the existence of such competition is seen by many as a necessary ingredient to a resilient economy, the huge assumption that is thereby made of human nature is astounding.
In simple terms, as people are forced to compete with one another in the interests of those in control of the capitalist system, it is our very own neighbours who are the victims in all of this. Not only is competition premised as a good thing but it has been so successfully integrated into our ways of thinking and doing that we look to tomorrow's budget through this competitive lens also.
In campaigning for health to be spared the knife, for education to receive grace or for social welfare to be left alone, for example, we are – whether knowingly or unknowingly – adhering to a competitive capitalist mentality in which economic concerns are paramount to the real needs of the population.
Such a situation is in part a reflection of the adherence of the current and past governments to outright capitalism as the only means to satisfy a population's needs. However, what is more alarming is the fact that as we look on, we too find ourselves adhering to a capitalist rhetoric in which the individual is in competition with everyone else.
Although the weather is cold, the fact that the majority of the people of Ireland adhere to such views chills to the bone. There is a need for individuals to recognise that what has been offered to date in terms of adherence to a capitalist mantra is unacceptable.
Further, if the budget is accepted tomorrow for what it is, it will be the equivalent of fighting fire with petrol. We all need to step back from the competition that generated the crisis not just in economic terms but what has also been a serious crisis of values for the Irish people.