The meritocracy myth, the 'smart' economy that ain't so smart, & the 'banking model' of education

We have seen repeated attempts over the past two years to tie justifications for government decisions - both 'common sense' ones and those now widely regarded as disastrous - to the necessity for an educated population.

Or, more directly, to the economic necessity for an educated workforce. Within this instrumentalist framework, which many mainstream media commentators and some educationalists have openly embraced, there is little, if any, room for actually educating society.

PDF-off: the EU-IMF memo

The Department of Finance has published the Memorandum of Understanding between it and the EU/IMF. Along with the Four Year Plan, this is a document that Fianna Fail and the Green Party are using to tie a millstone around the neck of people in Ireland. It commits the government to 'front loading' (I cannot hear that phrase without thinking of babies' nappies) massive cuts in welfare and services. It is a document that fixes their plan (it is not ours) to something larger than Ireland: the IMF itself. Unelected technocrats are now governing the fate of millions of people.

“Who’s this ‘we’ paleface?”

A brief history of “they” and “we” in Irish politics.

When an element of political discourse so taken-for-granted as to be almost invisible is suddenly replaced by its diametric opposite, we should ask what this implies. Since 1922, it has been a commonplace in Irish politics to find someone else (“them”) to blame whenever something goes wrong. Yet suddenly “we” are all in this together. What’s going on?


The IMF sent their best twelve: Myths, Metaphors & Irish (Debt) Redemption

The metaphor is not yet sovereign.

In a strange twist of globalisation, I listened to RTE Radio 1, driving through Oxfordshire when the announcement about the IMF came. The digital radio cut in and out, pausing and catching itself as it slipped from the 3G Network. As we passed a large born-again Christian sign reading 'Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins,' the radio cut back in to news that the IMF had sent twelve of their best men to discipline Ireland, to bring the good news.

"Going forward"

Many commentators proudly presented modern, confident, prosperous, liberal Celtic Tiger Ireland as having left the dogma of faith and belief in the past. It might be more accurate to say that some dogmas were traded in for others. For in a country where government seems to be incapable or unwilling to shift from the orthodoxies that have caused such damage, tacking the phrase 'going forward' to a sentence is really a kind of prayer.

Smashing Open the National Character Reserve Fund

"Time and again you have proved you can overcome adversity. And this time you do not face the challenges alone. Europe stands by you" – Olli Rehn, 9 November 2010.

Mr Ajai Chopra (pictured), IMF Mission Chief to Ireland, left the country the other day with a parting flourish. RTE's David Murphy asked him if Irish people ought to be fearful of the IMF. Chopra responded that the IMF's role is like that of a firefighter when a house is on fire or a doctor when a patient is sick.

As the Story is Told: There is No Alternative

If there is one phrase that could be used to describe the strategy used by the Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition government since this crisis began it is that there is no alternative to what they are doing. It's an opinion shared by the vast majority of the Irish media when it comes to resolving our fiscal crisis. Slashing government spending is the only way to resolve the crisis – austerity is a fact of life, and the sooner we accept that harsh truth, the better, or so the argument goes.