from the October 2013 issue of Socialist Voice
The system is determined to overcome its crisis by continuing to reduce workers’ wages and living standards, to undo the welfare provisions won by workers over a century of hard, bitter struggles. The establishment—both the EU and the main Irish establishment parties—continue to argue that we are living beyond our means and that we need to pay the debt and bring government spending under control.
To do this, they argue that we need to reduce the “cost basis” of the economy: that is, reduced wages, worsened working conditions, forcing workers to work harder and longer and, under the terms of Croke Park 2, even working additional hours for nothing. This super-exploitation is dressed up as an economic imperative.
They continue to use the “national debt” as the means of pushing through their carefully thought-out strategy, which they call austerity.
The recent report by the hand-picked establishment figures who make up the National Fiscal Council claim that the Government’s financial liabilities “have increased four-fold since 2007, reaching €208 billion (127 per cent of GDP) in 2012. Over this period, Ireland experienced the largest increase in indebtedness (relative to GDP) of any Euro Area country . . . mainly consisted of sovereign bonds, Troika/bilateral loans and promissory notes.
“Debt in Ireland in 2012 amounted to €192 billion or 118 per cent of GDP. There has been a four-fold increase in Government debt over the past five years, reflecting a series of large budget deficits and the cost of direct support provided to the banking sector. On this basis, Ireland had the fourth highest debt ratio in the Euro Area in 2012, whereas in 2007 Ireland had the second lowest ratio.”
This debt is not the people’s debt but corporate debt imposed upon the people by the external Troika with the active collaboration of the internal troika of establishment politicians, business leaders, and the state. The October budget will be more of the same in making working people pay.
We are now in a phase of permanent austerity: the cuts already imposed and the attacks on working conditions are permanent. The hurt that people are experiencing every day will continue. The children who go to school hungry every morning will still go to school hungry. The unemployed will continue to be made scapegoats and therefore subject to more cuts. Workers will continue to come home from work exhausted and deflated, with little time or energy for their families, for social activities, for living as human beings rather than as cogs of exploitation.
In particular, Irish youth will carry the heaviest burden. Those who find work will experience low wages, few rights, and precarious employment conditions. The country will continue to experience a massive brain drain as people leave what they feel is a hopeless situation, with few prospects of change.
The budget will receive the imprimatur of the EU, ECB and IMF even before the Irish people know their fate. This is a similar process to what is being imposed on all the heavily indebted peripheral states of the EU—and not only the peripheral states but throughout the EU. The specifics of the crisis manifest themselves differently, but the imposed cure is the same for working people.
There can be be no “better, fairer” capitalism: it can’t be transformed or reformed but must be challenge and defeated by working people. A better Ireland is possible only if we fight for it; but a better Ireland is diametrically opposite to a better capitalist Ireland. Only a socialist Ireland can guarantee an end to poverty, an end to unemployment, an end to emigration, an end to the depopulation of our towns and villages, an end to exploitation.
True and real equality between our people, between men and women, between town and country, between young and old, can be achieved only in a radical transformative economic, political, cultural and social strategy.
The debt is not ours. Repudiate it now! The future is determined by our actions of today.