Who comes to the rescue? Well obviously the International Monetary Fund. Talk about jumping from the pot into the fire. Why is it those who are riding in like white knights to save the day are the very same people who have been sowing the seeds of destruction?
It seems as though the problems and solutions in our world have stopped being two separate things. The Irish situation that is unfolding is fascinating because it is emblematic of the politics of the day. These two options, of government bailouts for business or neoliberal policies to stimulate business are seemingly a Penrose Staircase, an enclosed impossible loop. Which option is worse? To paraphrase Stalin, they are both worse!
The IMF in Ireland will pressure them to raise taxes and cut spending. While others want to keep the business tax low (around %13) and pump the insolvent banks full of cash. These minor quibbles are presented as choices.
Ireland in the 1990s took it upon itself to redefine its economy (the birth of the Celtic Tiger). It consciously moved from a European welfare state model towards a neoliberal paradise. It lowered corporate taxes to attract multinationals to open up offices, it allowed its financial institutions to run amok. It cut government spending and Irish citizens were encouraged to increasingly leverage themselves. Sound familiar?
Back in the early 20s Irish Republicans were fractured into two general camps. Those opposed to the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and those willing to accept it, despite it only granting Ireland Dominion status. Behind this treaty division lay the critical analysis of anti-colonial politics. How can a people subjected to hundreds of years colonial rule truly be free if they are still subjugated by an economic system dominated by British imperialism. (The same logic is at play in places such as South Africa) The historical fiction film The Wind that Shakes the Barley, presents the issues of the Irish Civil War (and modern Ireland) beautifully, proving that fiction is more true than reality.
Though the anti-treatists lost the civil-war they did develop a critical legacy carried forth by political formations such as Saor Eire. Saor Eire, formed in 1931 aimed to among other things ” achieve an independent revolutionary leadership for the working class and working farmers towards the overthrow of British imperialism and its ally, Irish capitalism.”
This legacy is still at play in Ireland, though it is not represented by any large mass movements or political parties. (The 1% tour does offer some hope)
Now after the sharp turn towards neoliberal policies Ireland has coming crashing down. Its banks are on the Brink of insolvency, 200,000 Irish homes are near foreclosure (that’s a fifth of all homes!) The government is talking about cutting a third of its budget and raising taxes. The poor are paying for the mistakes of the political and financial class (who will make out like bandits no matter what happens)
The IMF comes to the rescue with a plan insiders are calling “The Oliver Cromwell Package.” The lesson here is that capitalism is inherently imperialistic still. The periphery of the EU economy is crumbling. These places are over leveraged on the dreams of bankers and businesses. The core, Germany and France will themselves undergo cuts but it won’t look nearly as dramatic as in places like Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal or former Soviet bloc countries. The reason is that these countries are more susceptible to economic bullying. So the working class is paying for the economic crisis. However one must qualify this with geographic exceptions, the working class in the periphery are the ones being totally crushed. What is going on in Ireland is a European debt reshuffling where Irish workers come out on the bottom.
This is because colonialism in the form of capitalism is still operational. Ireland is slowly waking up to the fact that it hasn’t been free since 1649. So long as capitalism forces Ireland into a zero sum game, Cromwell lives…
Some perspectives on the crisis: