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Human Rights in Ireland >>
There Is An Alternative. TIAA.
Celtic tiger. A concrete alternative to its collapse which does not make the working class pay.
The Celtic Tiger has imploded. The capitalists and their politicians in Ireland and internationally say there is no alternative but to make the working class pay. TINA, that is There Is No Alternative, TINA, is back again. This was a powerful propaganda weapon that Thatcher and her international allies used in the past. Convincing the working class that there was no alternative. TINA.
The opinion and analysis explained here exposes this for the lie that it is. It explains a concrete alternative. TIAA. There Is An Alternative. TIAA. IThis alternative is to make the rich and the corporations which caused this catastrophe pay. TIAA.
This piece also explains the need for any alternative to address the consciousness of the working class and how this consciousness is not yet convinced that it itself, that is the working class, can actually run things themselves. It explains the need for a practical achievable alternative for which the working class can fight.
Ireland. New Alliance Formed to fight Capitalist wreckage.
Youth fighting the cuts in london.
We will all be familiar now with the death of the Celtic Tiger. This seemingly unstoppable and vibrant creature seemed to be the wonder of the European economies over the past years. But as some of us said it was kept going on an entirely artificial basis. Debt was a central feature. Debt can keep a capitalist economy going outside its limits. That is if enough people and entities can keep borrowing and spending then the economy can be kept growing and things can look good for a while, even very good. This was to a great extent what happened in Ireland.
Much of this debt went into building homes. Of course as we all know if we borrow more than we can afford to pay back then there will be a day of reckoning. This is what is happening in Ireland now. The economy which was able to grow outside its own limits through debt is now being snapped back inside those limits as this debt demands to be dealt with, both on the home money markets and the international money markets.
Another factor that allowed the Irish economy to grow as it did was the low tax rate it gave to the corporations. This also pushed the government deficit to a higher level. This low tax rate plus a well educated and English speaking workforce attracted many multi national corporations, especially US based multi national corporations and this added to the Irish economic growth, to the Celtic Tiger's temporary growth. All seemed to be for the best for a while in the best of all possible worlds. Of course for those who knew a bit about history and especially about Marx' view of capitalist economics they could see that this could not last. And it has not. The party is now over. the wreckage that capitalism has wrought is there for all to see. Capitalism as we say does not work.
Along with the economic crisis and the suffering this is bringing to so many people in Ireland there are other sides to what is happening. The union and labor party leaders continue to stand in the way of a fight back that could solve the problems. Token gestures and speeches is all they can manage. However the unions and also the labor party, definitely the former, will be factors in the struggles that will develop in the future as Irish workers seek to fight against having to pay for this crisis that was caused by Irish and international capitalism and their political representatives. Organized opposition has to be built inside the unions and the workplaces. This cannot be avoided by setting up other fight back organizations.
One of the other sides I am referring to is the development of the United left Alliance (ULA) in Ireland. This is a grouping of left and activist groups that are seeking to prepare themselves to organize a fight back against the cost of the capitalist caused crisis and wreckage being unloaded on to the backs of the working class. We should all be very excited about this development of the United Left Alliance in Ireland and congratulate all the groups involved for taking this step and standing against the left sectarianism that we have all been guilty off over the decades and which has done so much harm. I hope Comrades will not mind if I make a few comments. First on left sectarianism.
If this threatens this new movement, and it is unlikely it will disappear over night, then I feel it should be openly identified for what it is, left sectarianism, that we should openly admit that we all practiced it, that it is very damaging to the workers movement, and that it and all these aspects of it should be discussed and the struggle against it made explicit, and workers and activists in all groups and none be asked to take an open stand against it. It should be explained that the struggle against the attacks on workers living standards which is being waged by Irish and international capitalism is also a struggle against left sectarianism. Workers and activists in all groups and none have to take an open stand against this damaging method of organizing. It damages the workers movement.
While entirely supporting the unconditional opposition of the ULA to any and all attacks on the working class and unconditional opposition to cooperation with the parties that support solving the crisis on the basis of capitalism I am wondering if the ULA is possibly being insufficiently concrete about the steps that would deal with the crisis in Ireland and which would at the same time connect with the existing consciousness of the working class. I wonder if the ULA is sufficiently considering the actual consciousness of the working class. Not that this consciousness is right wing or anything like that, I believe it wants to fight. However I also believe that working class consciousness tends to be very practical and so I would think would very much want to have a clear view in its head as to how this financial and political crisis can be successfully dealt with. Such a crisis that exists now can motivate workers if they can see a way to fight and have clear goals, but if they cannot see a way to fight and do not have clear goals they think can be achieved then such a crisis can also scare the working class and tend to paralyze the working class.
I think that the ULA should put more emphasis on the ULA being a united Front. Explain what a united front actually is. that is a coming together of forces which agree on limited goals and also agree to fight together for these. In this case come together to prevent the crisis being put on to the backs of the working class. come together to make the rich and the corporations pay. The ULA does not have to be socialist. I do not know the mood sufficiently. But I am inclined to think that maybe it is better that it not be explicitly socialist, rather a united front around a few basic demands which make clear that the rich and capitalism must pay for the crisis and along with this and crucially a concrete plan of action to act to fight to win.
I very much think the ULA has to spell out where the money is to come from, how the crisis is to be solved. How about taking the oil and gas that is in the country's boundaries and paying no compensation. This is very concrete. This is very easily understood and envisaged. Take the oil and gas over with no compensation and use this wealth to begin to tackle the country's problems. Or if the consciousness is not there for taking the oil and gas into public ownership under working class control and management without compensation then at the very least a meaningful extraction tax that would yield the country a large income and help deal with the debt crisis. Give the facts and figures on this, at what rate would such an amount be collected and how much this would yield. This approach would make things concrete and the working class would have a clear view of their objective. These are the kind of ideas and facts that would make things concrete and convince the working class that it can fight and win.
We need to see the importance of how and why the right has used their TINA weapon over the years. That is the idea they push that There Is No Alternative. TINA. the right's use of TINA. There is no alternative. This is what they hammer away at. It has had a very big affect. But there is an alternative. We have to answer There Is An Alternative. TIAA. We have to spell this out in the most concrete way. In relation to oil and gas this approach was raised in the struggles to defend education and the public sector in California last year. California is the only major oil producing state in the US which does not have an extraction tax on oil. We demanded that one should be immediately put on and back dated, and deal with the State's budget crisis at least partly in this way. Workers could concretely see where there was big sources of money and how it could be used to solve the crisis. Not TINA but TIAA.
Back to Ireland. I feel we should also raise that all the financial houses be nationalized and that all bank accounts over a certain amount, perhaps 100,000 euros and up, perhaps much less, that are held by Irish citizens at home and abroad be examined to see where the money came from and what taxes are being paid. That is we demand the opening of the books of Irish capitalism and the rich. Along with this we also demand that corporate tax rates be put on a level which are comparable at least to other capitalist companies and that all bank accounts and incomes over a certain amount, again say the 100,000 level, Irish Comrades would have a better idea what the actual figure should be, again would have to pay a higher rate of tax. Again I am raising the need to concretely explain in facts and figures, in numbers how to solve the crisis. The concept to be made clear. TIAA.
In this way the ULA can explain how a large capital fund can be established, not by taking from the working class but by taking from the oil and gas sector, by increasing the tax on the corporations, by increasing the tax on the rich. I think we have to establish this idea in workers heads. That is the idea that the country is loaded down with money or money in off shore bank accounts and this must be accessed and brought together in a large capital fund under public ownership and democratic working class control and management and that this is the basis for solving the crisis. This capital fund idea must be established this way, and made concrete in the minds of the working class, made the center of the discussion as to the way forward. Workers know that something has to be done. If they cannot see any other way they will acquiesce to the IMF and the EU attacks and the idea that there is no alternative. That is TINA. Again we have to show that there is an alternative. TIAA. We need to explain there is an alternative to making the working class pay and that is by establishing a large capital fund which would be taken from the corporations and the rich instead. In this way the working class will be able to see a concrete solution and a concrete target to fight for.
We should propose that this capital fund be used for the following purposes. If the consciousness exists we should raise the need to and campaign to cancel the debt to the banks. If it does not this fund can be used to deal with the debt in a selective manner. That is working people who have debts and shares and bonds and holdings can be compensated but the corporations and swindlers and their pals not. One way or another this capital fund should be used to move the country's finances into the black. Take over the banks and make these publicly owned banks which would be part of the capital fund. At the same time selectively look at the situation of the banks and the ordinary working people protect and compensate them, the swindlers and shareholders and bond holders - again not.
At the same time use this capital fund to invest in infrastructure, new energy sources etc to create jobs and so on and put people back to work and able to earn an income again. Part of this would be to use this capital fund to deal with the housing crisis. There are huge numbers of empty houses in the country. Many others that the owners want to sale and cannot. Yet there are large numbers of people needing good homes. Part of this capital fund could be used to take over these homes, look at paying for these where they are family or personally owned and begin to house the people who need homes in this way and at the same time begin to deal with the crisis of empty homes. Where the homes or apartments are owned by the swindling developers, banks and corporations then take them over without compensation.
Now to the issue of consciousness where there might be the biggest challenge but one which I feel there is no option but to confront and struggle with. This is the issue of who would be in charge of these steps. I feel that we have to pose the challenge to the working class. It is us the working class who have to be in charge. The working class is held back I feel by a number of factors. The worst is the role of the union and labor leaders. There is also the role of the left and its left sectarianism and ultra leftism. But there is also, and this is related to the previous issues, the fact that the working class itself is not confident that it itself can do the job, can run things. We have to face up to this. Even in spite of seeing the catastrophic mess that Irish and international capitalism, that the capitalist class and politicians have made of things, even seeing these scum, this class to have proven conclusively that they cannot run things, the working class in my opinion are still not sure they can run things themselves.
The ULA will have to campaign in my opinion for the concrete economic steps I outline above as this would increase the confidence of the working class in its own ability and power. These are concrete simple steps which would increase the confidence of the working class. Increased understanding that these basic simple steps can lead forward would begin to have an effect in increasing the confidence of the working class as a whole. If you know what has to be done and what you want to do then you are naturally more confident.
And at the same time as campaigning for these measures it would be necessary to campaign for and actually concretely build and struggle through and link together working peoples committees in the workplaces, the communities, the unions at all levels, the places of business, the schools and colleges and in this way help the working class become more confident and convinced that it can actually carry out and over see these measures by the establishment of democratic working peoples committees. We would have to actually struggle to build these on the ground, struggle through them, have victories through, them fill these out. In this way help the working class gain confidence in its own ability and power. The tactics used would have to include occupations, strikes and general strikes, boycotts, mass mobilizations of all sorts, which taken together with explaining how the economic steps that can and have to be taken can transform the consciousness of the working class to where it believes it can become the class in charge, instead of a a class in itself, a class for itself and the class in charge.
We should study and explain about the committees that were thrown up in France in 1968, and in Argentina a decade ago when the working class faced the attacks on their living standards and set up independent centers of organization and power. I feel we need to do this in order to help the working class believe in itself, believe that it can actually do the job. Such a movement developing would begin to move the struggle forward into the big leagues.
I think this raises other major issues. Such a movement would have to build real links and action with the British working class and the working class in the North. Not just propaganda but building real links. Move the struggle on to an internationalist level, this is what is essential. Unite the working class North and South , in Ireland and Britain against the attacks on living standards which workers in all these areas are suffering. Link with the French workers, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Greeks, it is a sign of the blindness of nationalism that at a time when working class people throughout all of Europe are under attack and fighting that Sinn Fein takes this issue up in a nationalist manner. This is where I am worried about the nationalist tone of the Sinn Fein protests. If this struggle of the Irish working class is waged in a nationalist manner it will be defeated. This is as sure as night follows day.
We must not be too narrow in our view when we approach this crisis in the South or Ireland. First I think we have to make sure we are connecting with the existing consciousness of the working class, and doing so in such a way as to help that consciousness move forward and the working class become stronger. I think crucial to making sure this happens is a program of a few basic demands that are seen as practical and achievable by the working class in struggle at this time, and also explaining that these can only be won through struggle and what the nature of that struggle has to be. I believe the ULA does not have to be explicitly socialist but it does have to be most concrete in explaining that There Is An Alternative. TIAA. The alternative must be concretely explained. That is where the money can come from, how the economy can be saved from wreckage. How the rich can be made to pay and not the working class. If this explanation is not made the property of the consciousness of the working class then it will be very hard to win this struggle.
I also think that if ULA has to see that if we can help bring such a movement into existence it must not be confined to, it would not be confined to, the borders of the south or the shores of Ireland. As I say we would have to see that we would begin to be entering the big leagues then. With all this would mean to the way the enemies would move to take us on? We have to always try and be aware and know when we are moving into different leagues and new territory. The capitalists are not totally stupid. Spreading the movement internationally on a program and that makes concrete sense to working class people and using a strategy and tactics that can win, this is what can avoid the catastrophe which Irish and international capitalism is serving up for the Irish and international working class at the moment.