Recession and the New Resistance


  • Kieran Allen


Two questions have dominated discussions about the economic crisis in Ireland.

One is, 'Where will you get the money to close the 18 billion deficit?'. This crops up any time a left wing critic appears on television or radio. Once asked the 'show me the money' question, they are 'put on the spot' about the figures. Any hesitancy in tone or claims about fleecing the rich is met with howls of derision. Even modest proposals to write down debt payments are branded as 'unrealistic'. Reducing living standards of the majority is deemed inevitable but nothing can be done to upset 'investors'. The rhetorical trick consists of getting the Left to provide a detailed alternative within the two minute time slot, while ruling out any encroachment on the power of capital. It only works when resistance is so low that it is difficult to see how the wealthy could be forced to pay up.

Which brings us to the second question: 'Why have the Irish not resisted?' This question arises because of the contrast between the Irish experience and that of Greece and, to a lesser extent, Spain. The political elite revels in the contrast because their economic strategy is based on ultra conformity to the IMF-EU-ECB troika. At one stage, Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, joked that he would print T-Shirts with the slogan 'We are not Greek', while Eamonn Gilmore has said. , 'Remember that the route that Greece has followed is the kind of route that some of the 'No' campaigners are recommending for this country. That is not a direction that we want to follow'.