Another society is not only possible - it is necessary

Here is an open letter in response to the Claiming Our Future event that was held in the RDS on 30 October. It was sent to us by Mark Malone and put together by students on the Community Education, Equality and Social Activism MA programme in NUIM.

(Mis)educating our nation’s youth

Have you ever wondered why complex political-economic ideologies and policies, such as neo-liberalism, which present gross economic and social and inequalities as inevitable, necessary or even desirable can be so palatable to so many, such that those on the left are so readily cast and perceived as ‘loonies’? The following nuggets of wisdom, which ‘explain’ global inequalities, ‘underdevelopment’ and poverty, are taken from second-level textbooks currently being used in an Irish context.

Other people's pain

Our politicians and our media are never so noble as when they're talking about other people's pain.

Every time we hear a minister, an economist or a journalist talking about the economic catastrophe, we hear them talk about the pain to be suffered by the tax-payer. We should listen carefully to the language they use, because language has a way of turning things into reality.

Human rights and ‘Sharing the Pain’

Amidst all the current mainstream rhetoric about sharing the burden of our 
economic crisis, there’s been a striking lack of discussion about the 
limits of the pain that can be offloaded on the worst-off. Ireland’s
 obligations under international human rights law are very relevant here,
 but seem to be missing in action at the moment. What follows are a few 
suitably po-faced and technical legal points: read at your own risk!

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?