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Here’s something of interest concerning Ailtirí na hAiséirghe July 28, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, Irish Politics.

Can I point people towards this genuine find on the excellent Come here to me! [whose contributors I joined on a enjoyable trip around some of Dublin's pubs a few weeks back - there's a report on Come Here to Me! if you're interested in the progress we made].

Anyhow, they’ve managed to get hold of Aiséirghe, paper of Ailtirí na hAiséirghe (who we dealt with here).

Unless I’m much mistaken there’s a reference on the back page of the paper to the relatives of a long-time commentor on the CLR.

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1. Joe - July 28, 2010

Cheers WBS. Yep, that’s me da all right. God rest him. A big long piece about what Uncle Gearóid said and then “Joe’s da also spoke”. Over time all the people who “also spoke” got a bit browned off and eventually left the Ceannaire to talk to himself.

WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2010

That’s fantastic. I’m sure I asked you before, but what were his thoughts on all that subsequently? Did his politics change a lot afterwards?

Joe - July 28, 2010

Hmmm. We never really discussed it in any depth. By the time I was old enough to think about it, Aiserighe was an historical footnote. Da was a Charlie Haughey FF nationalist in the seventies and eighties and even nineties. He detested Conor Cruise O’Brien. He once said to me that he still thought it possible that Ireland would be united within his lifetime. He was also a very quietly devout Catholic. But certainly not anti-semitic in any way whatsoever.
In one conversation he told me Aiseirighe’s stages approach to achieving Irish unity – I mentioned it here before – starting with a national prayer crusade and only resorting to physical force after several other stages of non-violence had been unsuccessful.
The fascism and anti-semitism of Aiseirighe were things that probably both of us would have been too uncomfortable and embarrassed about to discuss in any real way. In his interview with the author for the Aiseirighe book though, he downplayed the notion that Aiserighe was anti-semitic by stating that they rented their office from a Jewish solicitor. Which is slight enough evidence when put against some of the stuff in the Aiseirighe paper which the book described.
Finally, the Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton is a memoir of someone else whose da was in Aiseirighe – and a great book it is too.

WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2010

So perhaps in some ways yes and in others no? Would that be a fair summation?

Joe - July 29, 2010

Yep. I guess so.

Joe - July 30, 2010

Getting back on topic! I’d like to expand on how my da’s politics changed from 1948 (the year of issue of this issue of Aiseirghe) to the 1970s, 80s and 90s and early 00s. In 1948 he was in his mid twenties and a member of a fascistic, anti-semitic party. He always remained strongly nationalist and Catholic. But when I knew him he was not a fascist or anti-semite. Definitely not. He was not politically active after Aiseirghe, he never joined Fianna Fáil to my knowledge though he supported and voted for them.
He did vote for Conor Cruise O’Brien in 1969 I think. He very much regretted that!
When the Corporation built the big housing estates in Kilbarrack in the early seventies, he was a member of the Residents Association (made up of residents of the smaller purchase house estates which preceded the Corporation houses). Along with Michael Woods and others, he took over the Residents Association and changed it into a Community Association which welcomed the new tenants and residents of the Corporation houses to the area and into membership. As chair of the Community Association, he called on the first tenants in the Corporation estates to formally welcome them to the area. I am proud of him for that.

WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2010

Which sort of suggests it’s unlikely that the anti-semitic part of the AnahA programme was the issue of primary or even secondary interest to him, but instead that it was the nationalist part.

Ah, the community association, well I remember it’s activities! :)

2. Starkadder - July 28, 2010

Interesting..the bit in Aiséirghe about ” a grand co-ordinated effort, a magnificent spirit of co-operation, to make our land a nation, and a great nation, once again” seems to come straight out of Roger Griffin’s
idea of fascists wanting to create a “re-birth” for their nation after a
period of decline.

Tim Johnston - July 28, 2010

indeed – palingenesis, the very essence of Fascism. Will to power, etc etc, must’ve been powerful stuff in its day.

3. dfallon - July 28, 2010

Thanks for the link, when I locate the camera I’ll snap the inside pages, which include a bizarre piece on Welsh nationalism and the groups views on tourism.

It takes all sorts.

WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2010

I’d love to see the Welsh nationalist bit. And tourism come to think of it!

Starkadder - August 1, 2010

According to “Architects of the Resurrection”, there was a
J.J. O’Kelly involved in Aiseirghe in the 1940s. Does anyone know
if this was same guy that was in Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League ?

4. John Palmer - July 29, 2010

From my memories of Ailteiri na h’Aseirighe (sorry no fada) in the 1950s its “market” lay more on the republican than the “Free State” side of the political divide. Republican prisoners in the Curragh during this time reputedly displayed copies of Aseirghi on their notice boards (maybe for the lack of anything else). Some believe that h’Aseirghe’s ideas on economic revival based on support for “natural resources” such as re-afforestation had some influence on what passed for Sinn Fein economic policy in the 50s. Of course O’Duffy and the Blue Shirts came out of and primarily sought to mobilise Cumann na nGaedheal supporters. It was only during the war (“Emergency”) that there was an attempted coming together of SOME republicans with O’Duffy and his crew in Coras na Poblachta which embraced open pro-Nazis. It did not last long. Under Gearoid O Cuinneagain’s fanatical and sectarian leadership Alteiri na h’Aseirghi sought to consolidate links with foreign fascists in the late 40s when they were for some time a busted flush.

5. Jim Monaghan - July 29, 2010

The point of Republican policy could be stretched to the 70s at least, exploiting our own natural resources.On a general point their economic policies probably were to the left of what most of the left calls for now.You could say that the Irish state suffered from a local form of globalisation, the domination of Britain.Remember we did not have an independent currency then and neither do we now, which some would say limits our ability to limit the effects of the current debacle.
The Curragh camp contained arch Stalinists like the awful Gould (whose brother was kidnapped in Barcelona and died in the Gulag) and proto Trotskyists like Eoin MacNamee.
Interesting how Dev handled Vocationalism. He set up a commission and basically ignored it. The Senate is selected on a sort of debased Vocationalism.
To be pessimistic Aiséirghe probably had more support then that our variagated far left does now.
Either the left will solve the crisis or the right will do it. Across Europe the forces of reaction are growing. No need to panic just yet, I suppose.

6. John Palmer - July 29, 2010

Jim – A slight misunderstanding: my reference to the republicans in the Curragh was to the ’50s (Operation Harvest) generation. I am not sure how Sinn Fein policy during that period could be described as leftist. There were some prisoners there at that time (as you know) who gravitated to revolutionary socialism (Trotskyism). But they were a tiny minority which in part may explain why it was difficult to separate orthodox SF economic/development policy from that of Aiseirghe. I share your alarm at developments but – maybe unlike you – I believe purely “national” strategies today are meaningless. Although I do not agree with every detail in its policy the German Die Linke and the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung have published a very interesting a strongly European policy strategy for the left in confronting the economic crisis.

7. Jim Monaghan - July 30, 2010

We are not that far apart on national versus international. I do not believe that say Keynesian stimulus packages could work in a small open economy like Ireland. We have to do (this side of a Cuban type response) effectively what is being done in the bigger economies but more so. The current position of the German gov, is like the return to the gold standard policy which deepened the recession in the 30s.Capitalism is international, globalisation is just a deepening of it.While reacting to the crisis is understandable I find the broader nostrums of the left fairly meaningless. Futile as it might be I am supporting the ETUC day of action as it represents some kind of pan European approach to the crisis. The rival states seek not to have a European stimulus but to gain competitive advantage by massive cuts in their own backyard. This is essentially what Merkel and Cameron are doing. To stay afloat in the tailstream we will be forced to do likewise but worse as we are in a bigger hole with few cards to play with.
This topic heading is not the place for this debate but perhaps the Cedar lounge could post the Linke doc.

economics 101 - July 30, 2010

there is a widely-aired belief that stimulus in Ireland won’t work because it is an open economy. But that is a non-sequitur.

Consider the following; the most closed economy in world is North Korea. A stimulus package there would yield no positive result as there is no capacity to increase the supply of goods, either from abroad or via the domestic economy’s ability to absorb capital and technology from abroad.

Too far to go? Then closer to home might help. This economy is the most open in Europe. The economy in the 6 counties is the most closed (foreign sales less than £6bn per annum).

The multiplier effect of Community Structural Funds in the North average 1.35 over 16 years, whereas the multiplier here was 2.05. Discussing the lowest impact from CSF the authors suggested it was linked to the lowest levels of openness of the economy.


Though long-neglected, the explanation really is economics 1.01. This economy, by its high level of participation in the international division of labour, increases its relative efficiency and the efficiency of all investments, including government investment.

But the idea that Ireland’s economy isn’t suited to stimulus – despite all the evidence to show that it is, it has, and it will be – does have a lot of traction, not because it is right, but because it is endlessly repeated without examination. It needs to examined much more closely than it has been.

WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2010
8. John Palmer - July 30, 2010

Jim – I agree this is not for this thread but the concluding popints in this text give an idea of Die Linke’s approach – http://www.european-left.org/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/news-archive/artikel/introductory-speech-by-sabine-wils-mep-die-linke-in-the-european-parliament/

9. Jim Monaghan - July 30, 2010

Could I add a point. To do a stimulus we have to borrow. These scrooges will not finance a stimulus package outside of certain limits. Do you think that the international bondholders or the bank of last resort (IMF) would be any nicer to Enda and Gilmore. For the life of me I cannot see how we walked ourselves into dealing with the Anglo-Irish debt.The gov. says we would not be able to borrow if we do not accept responsibility. I do not accept this. This would give us some room (or less of a prison of debt) if we could get out of it.
Most left commentary is about reversing the cuts (which I totally agree with). This would mop up a lot of extra borrowing, so where is the money for a stimulus.
One recent stimulus was the Lynch Gov. This dug a hole which was considered big until the bankers and builders got going with the current one.
On the northern economy. It operates a deficit which the UK picks up. a continuous stimulus so to speak.
To get the money for a stimulus would mean diverting expenditure.Outside of a limited targetted approach say green energy measures, I don’t see much room for manouvre.
I fail to see how in a globalised world how a small economy can buck the trend. Well maybe we could go the Swiss road and become a haven for criminals and tax dodgers.
For once we need to think in European terms and persuade the great economies esp. the Germans to spend and thus lift the greater economy.
I leave out consideration of an Irish Cuba, which would make a limited sense, but the main discussion is on a stimulus within the boundaries of Capitalism.
Alas, the ICTU failed to act and bring down this awful gov. when it had the chance in 2009.

Pyke O'Grady - July 30, 2010

you are completely wrong about Ireland and trends. All the othter small open economies in Europe – Belgium, Holland, Finland, Norway – went for stimulus. As did the larger economies – France and Germany especially, and Britain under Labour. Again, it is spin, pure spin, that Ireland cannot undertake stimulus, and again it shows the paucity of knowledge of these matters that the Irish left accepts without criticism the worng and misleading ductates of economists in the pay of banks and estate agents.

The international bond market bogeyman is another example of the lack of knowledge of these matters, as Ireland’s bond rating has dropped three times since it undertook a deflationary course, for the simple reason that the deflationary course has undermined its ability to meet its bond repayments through revenue. you shrink the economy, taxation revenue shrinks as well. Economics 101.

As for most left commentary being about reversing the cuts – again, a little bit more reading than the opinion pages of the Irish Times is needed here. Almost ALL left commentary has been about tackling Ireland’s tax relief on non-productive labour, and using the pension fund not to gamble on hedge funds but as a stimulus fund for essential infastructure. The fact of the matter is that we are borrowing in order to keep the tax relief laws for property, finance, horses, and gambling on the statute books.

I have to say, this is a very strange left-wing site. A good few of the commentators seem to read the Irish Times and watch RTE and think that keeps them informed as to the arguments the Irish left is making. Very, very strange indeed.

WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2010

Two thoughts, people are entirely free to express their opinions in the comments. That’s what discussion is about. But more importantly it’s a way to ensure that the nostrums of left and right are examined as closely as can be done given the fact none of us on here are political economists (apart from Michael Taft who comments here). I think that’s important because it moves us into a more in-depth analysis of the problems and the potential solutions.

As regards noting that the bond markets have not mirrored the financial policies pursued by the government has been noted numerous times in posts… as recently as this one.


At every point we’ve made the argument that there are alternatives, some of which indeed you point to such as cutting tax reliefs etc, which would free money up that is otherwise being cut from those on lower and medium incomes. Which is presumably the point you’re coming from as well – no?

Pyke O'Grady - July 30, 2010

you have missed my point. I am not talking about right-wing commentators, I’m talking about left-wing commentators – genuine left-wingers – who none the less accept right-wing assumptions about economics.

As to not knowing much about political economy, the obvious question there is, why not? There is a long tradition of the left-wing studying economics. Is there a reason why the Irish left-wing doesn’t study economics? (AFAIK Michael Taft is American).

Tim Johnston - July 30, 2010

When you’re talking about stimulus, you’re talking about “right-wing” economics. Keynes was still a capitalist. Unless you’re arguing that government spending is just a smokescreen for central planning, which I don’t think you are, if you like Taft. He is one of a large number of left-leaning economists who wants to tie down the beast rather than kill it.

WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2010

Hold on Pyke, so far as I can see only Jim seems to hold the opinion you ascribe to unamed commentators, at least re stimulus, the Irish Times stuff I doubt he believes. I have no problem with that, it’s his opinion and he’s entirely entitled to it.

So given that I don’t hold his opinion, and neither do our other contributors or almost all our commentators is it possible that this ‘very strange left wing site’ is nothing of the sort, but rather we don’t jump on people of right or left opinions who express an opinion?

Re not being political economists, I’m trained as a cultural historian of sorts amongst other things and I and the others who started this blog didn’t realize that what is essentially an interest required years of study in an entirely different disciplne. I’ve said myself, if I had my time again political economy is where I’d be at.

We do what we can and admit the gaps in our knowledge.

Pyke O'Grady - July 31, 2010

such a strawman. I said nothing about Keynes. I pointed out that other small open economies in Europe undertook stimulus, and that large open economies did this as well. Ireland didn’t, and that’s why Ireland in 2009 had the largest yearly deflationary drop ever recorded.

and such a strawman about Taft. I expressed no opinion, except to say he is left-wing and American. The rest is of your own making.

It is a bit, well, you know, simple of you to think that stimulus automatically means “Keynes”. But I don’t know if you really think that, though, as you’ve already given me two strawmen.

WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2010

Pyke, got to ask, is there a reason you think that a confrontational approach is appropriate for here?

Just asking, y’know?

Pyke O'Grady - July 31, 2010

all due respect, but where have I said anything about training? (I am right to presume that you mean formal academic training?) does one need a formal academic qualification in order to be left-wing? and I’m not quite sure how to respond to an atittude that admits a blind-spot in knowledge about political economy, yet accepts that blind-spot with a shrug of the shoulders.

I think I should just leave you alone here. This site isn’t what I expected and I do not want to start a row with you. I will just leave it at that.

Pyke O'Grady - July 31, 2010

I meant my last comment to be my last comment, but really,

“Pyke, got to ask, is there a reason you think that a confrontational approach is appropriate for here?”

Talk about a loaded question. I make a couple of comments, one of which you actually agree with – the lack of knowledge one – and then a loaded question, accusing me of being confrontational, and then asking me to explain your assertion of confrontation to you!

What a waste of time. What a wasted evening.

Garibaldy - July 31, 2010

I guess what this boils down to is a question of what it means to know much about or to study political economy. It seems to me that Pyke has taken the attitude – on the basis as far as I can see of what Jim and John Palmer have said, and the fact that Irish Times pieces are often used as the starting points for threads – that there is no left-wing political economy here.

I would be very dubious that any – never mind “a good few” – of those commenting here think that RTÉ and the Irish Times will keep them informed of the arguments that the Irish left in making. I think we’re all aware that visiting websites and reading publications belonging to left-wing parties and organisations is the only way to keep reliably informed on that. So I think there are a number of mistaken assumptions to start with.

As for political economy. It’s long been a theme of commentary here that one of the problems afflicting the left – and especially social democracy – not just in Ireland but more generally in recent years has been an insufficient attention to the economy. In fact, social democracy has pretty much abandoned any distinctive attitude towards economics, and ideas of economic redistribution. At the same time, many of those rooted in the new left of the 1960s/70s have embraced identity politics at the expense of class politics. These are hobby horses that turn up here regularly enough. Nor is it unheard of for us to reflect on the need for an equivalent of the old SFWP Research Section works on the economy.

I take WBS’s point about not being trained in political economy to be that the professional and personal interests of the overwhelming majority of those who comment here are not primarily in economics at the theoretical level, and so this isn’t the place to come for detailed plans based on facts and figures. Which is certainly true. As is his point that many of us would like to be able to produce them in the same way that discussions of the ins and outs of parliamentary politics are produced, and feel a certain amount of frustration that we don’t.

However, there is clearly a left-wing approach to political economy brought to bear in discussions here, be it discussions of governmental economic policy, or possible alternatives. Personally, I wouldn’t be as downbeat as WBS is about the extent to which a left-wing approach to economics is present here, though certainly we could do with more of it. As could the entire left, not only in Ireland, but everywhere in Europe.

WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2010

Pyke, you’re an awfully familiar sounding person, aren’t you? There’s just something, I don’t know, that makes me wonder where we’ve met before. Hmmmm…

But this, this is very telling.

“all due respect, but where have I said anything about training? (I am right to presume that you mean formal academic training?) does one need a formal academic qualification in order to be left-wing? and I’m not quite sure how to respond to an atittude that admits a blind-spot in knowledge about political economy, yet accepts that blind-spot with a shrug of the shoulders. ”

How on earth could you possibly come to that conclusion from what I’ve written? I was pointing out that we weren’t trained political economists, but I’d already noted that we (the left and here on this site) should be ‘ensuring the nostrums of the left and right are examined as closely as can be given the fact none of us our political economists’ and that we had to ‘move us into a more in-depth analysis’.

In other words despite not being trained political economists we were to do the precise opposite of ‘shrugging’ our shoulders and had to engage but that we should also acknowledge blind spots.

As for confrontational, a series of comments that starts off deciding with no evidence that this site is ‘strange’ due to one or two other comments (and by the way I’m not throwing Jim under the bus on this one, he’s a valued commentor on all matters, even if some of us might diverge on some areas of economic policies) and continues by characterising other commentors views as ‘simple’ isn’t out, in my book, to make friends and influence people.

Tim Johnston - July 30, 2010

what is NAMA if not stimulus?

And does stimulus do any good? How would we know? Economists suffer from the classic dilemma of the prophet: if you predict gloom you get no medal for being right, and if your advice is taken, there’s no way of knowing whether you were right or not. It’s the same with stimulus packages.
The US has thrown billions into the economy and still has double-digit unemployment. Krugman says throw billions more. At what point do we agree to listen to the alternative views?
Ireland is growing now, and has had no stimulus – in fact, we’ve had austerity. How do the Keynesians explain that?

There are those who believe that what you spend money ON is more important than how much you spend. In a way, had the cuts not been made – or, rather, were reversed – it would represent a form of stimulus; while others say that funds must be funnelled into huge capital projects like infrastructure, which begs the question if such projects were necessary why weren’t they undertaken in the height of the boom?

There’s an argument to be made that the reason austerity seems to work is that people then don’t fear tax increases (because spending has been cut), which gives them more confidence in the economy. That argument is made here:

Pyke O'Grady - July 30, 2010

Ireland is not growing. GNP has shrunk again. You’re talking about GDP, which includes the profits of international financal corporations and brassplate companies. Jim Stewart of TCD has covered this in detail.

Budapestkick - July 31, 2010

Yeah, holding up Ireland as a success story seems a bit bizarre what with living here and all. Similarly, measuring the economy in GDP growth doesn’t really reflect the reality. After all, we were only technically in recession briefly in the 80s. Nobody recalls those years as wonderful times of economic growth. If you want the real picture you need to look at it from a perspective that isn’t just dry economics, namely what level will unemployment be at and how low will standards of living be, and considering that Ernst and Young (discredited neo-liberals as they are) released a report that was optimistic about growth levels but still admitted that unemployment won’t drop below 300,000 for several years, this is a pretty clear indication that austerity ain’t working and ain’t gonna work.

EWI - July 31, 2010

The US has thrown billions into the economy and still has double-digit unemployment. Krugman says throw billions more. At what point do we agree to listen to the alternative views?

In the context of the US, the “billions” you say that the US has invested in stimulus are insignificant with respect to the size of their economy, and reflects a refusal to actually follow the stimulus route (in large part due to Republican and conservative Democrat opposition).

US economist Duncan Black has been covering this for some time (and he, like McWilliams, was shouting from the rooftops about the financial sector and property problems when no ‘respectable’ economist, journalist or politician wanted to know):


Tim Johnston - July 31, 2010

“insignificant with respect to the size of their economy”

Point taken. Although it proves neither the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of stimulus per se.
Peter Schiff was another economist who was completely ignored and even dismissed as a fringe lunatic when he (accurately) predicted the US property crash, and now he has a senate campaign behind him.
One thing I will add is that a stimulus package would be more effective than simply using that money to shore up the banks who got themselves criminally undercapitalised during the ‘boom’ – I want to see those responsible booted out of their jobs and onto the dole queue without hesitation.

EWI - August 1, 2010

One thing I will add is that a stimulus package would be more effective than simply using that money to shore up the banks who got themselves criminally undercapitalised during the ‘boom’ – I want to see those responsible booted out of their jobs and onto the dole queue without hesitation.

Wouldn’t we all. However, the same people beating the drum for “pain” on workers are the Janus’s who then turn around and lecture on how our corporate class should be cosseted like the fragile kittens that they apparently are (I’m guessing that this message goes down well with the D4 demographic).

10. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2010

In a way even reversing cuts, or some of them would have a stimulus effect.

11. Fergal - July 30, 2010

Jim-”a haven for criminals and tax dodgers” a la the Swiss model.Sounds like a definition of NAMA or the state itself.
What about this as a soultion?Borrow trillions of euros,then invest massively in public transport,green energies,infrastructure,local industries,R+D,public sevices etc and then turn around after a while and say to the dreaded markets “oops can’t repay your loans,go and have a run and jump and we’ve got a first rate state!

12. Jim Monaghan - July 31, 2010

Let us be clear on my position. I am sceptical that our economy has much room for manouvre. Our Bankers etc. dug a bigger hole than most of Europe.This at least limits what we can do vis a vis stimulus. The Benelux did not go as wild as our bankers did.Norway has oil. Britain is reversing its stimulus program. My guess is that while we might have done a little in that direction it would have been very little.Take the building industry, it has supplied a huge % of the unemployed. We had a building industry which was huge by international standards. Aside form a solar energy and insulation scheme there would mstill be a huge shakeout from this industry.
If we got out of some/all of the unlimited guarantee to the banks esp. Anglo obviously we would have a bit more room.I am inclined to McWillaims view that we should default. That attempting to pay off unpayable loans just digs a bigger hiole. I agree with him that those who loan would not particularly punish us for long.
Then a stimulus program but targetted on what will be the industries of the future not wasting money propping up the unsustainable.It is amazing how everything can be classified as an investment in the future.
Oh Yes end most of the tax breaks, except where they have a stimulus effect eg Green policies likke solar and insulation.
“tax relief laws for property, finance, horses, and gambling ”
Who is investing in property, the truely mad.
Horses, well say goodbye to the industry in Kildare, Kentuckys gain.
Gambling, well it will go off shore.
I am sure the greens will say ending these in the next budget is a great gain. Stable doors being bolted etc.
Remove the 10% limit on Corporation tax, then start the countdown to the closure of Intel/HW etc.
Again Capital and money is hard to control outside North Korea.
I remember when Burton got all santimonious about rich pop stars.Well they moved their company to the Netherlands. Cannot stand the hyprocrite but preaching/moaning does not bring in tax dollars.Try taxing Smurfit, he lives in Monaco. I would demand that the EU close down these tax dodgers paradises, and blockade Switzerland. I am serious.The massive leakage of tax from countries across europe is a major effect on us, limiting the ability of states to finance themselves.
Again I honestly feel that neither Socialism in a single country or Keynesianism can work.
I can change my mind. I now on balance feel that joining the Euro wiped out a lot of room for manouvre. The pay cuts would then have been delivered as a devaluation rather that direct .
I am sceptical that those who buy our bonds who raised our interest rate during deflation would reduce it if we inflated. But this is a guess. “Socialist” Spain and Greece are doing what the IMF tells them. Perhaps they should contact these bond buyers who would tell them to do stimulus.
Could someone tell me why the Lynch gov. stimulus package ended in ruins. Does anyone remember self financing tax cuts.Oh what interest did the Irish state pay then over or under our neioghbours for money.
I feel that the workingclass needs demands like a 32 hour week and other demands such as that fought for on a European basis at least. Otherwise we can see more Dells moving to cheaper areas. (Labour is not the only cost). Spread the work so we all gain from the productivity gains of technology.
Oh I can see the demand nationalise Intel under workers controll.
I am not an economist. But I feel that a lot of left comment boils down to simple being against the status quo without going into any great depth on the alternatives. While I agree that a left gov. (left as in reformist, revolutionary is a different game) would/should do things differently, I am not convinced that they would have much room tio play with.
I wonder has TASC produced a costed alternative to Lenihan

nd - July 31, 2010

Jim, I think you’ve hit on something really crucial here with the suggestiion of a 32 hour week,with no loss of earnings!This is what the wider labour movement should be fighting for.Won’t this “share out” work and lower the dole queues,make life more bearable for many workers(we’re not all executives!),create more leisure/family time,lower social welfare pay-outs and bring in mote tax?I genuinely don’t think this govt.wants to tackle unemployment,they’re obsessed with pleasing the markets and not upsetting multinationals.
I’m not so sure that capital and money are hard “to contol outside North Korea”.The example that springs to mind is the Emilia-Romagna “cooperative ” economy in Italy centred around Bologna and its hinterland.It seems immmune to world-wide shocks and the dreaded capital flight as it has achieved a high degree of self sufficiency through worker participation,wise state investment(by intelligent Left administrations),sharing of resources,class consciousness and diversification.Cooperatives account for around 40 per cent of its GNP,around one in ten workers is self employed(which eliminates alienation and the class struggle contrast this with the big Fiat factories in Turin).Coops are found in many sectors including housing,banking,tiles,cheese-making,tyre parts,computers,social services etc.The Communist party have controlled the region since WW2 willing to invest in the local economy…and it works!It has the 2nd highest GDP in Italy and a high standard of living
How do we get from here to Emilia-Romagna?

CMK - July 31, 2010


Emilia-Romagna is definitively something the left here should stress as an example of the left “working”. Whenever George Hook, Shane Coleman or some random FF/FG/Lab numbskull argues “sure, if you had socialism, we’d end up like Russia, or Cuba”, we can throw back “or, like Emilia-Romanga”.

It would also be a relief from the Scandinavia worship of TASC their and fellow travellers in the Labour party, and elsewhere.

However, the only caveat about Emilia-Romanga, gleaned from Paul Ginsbourg’s ‘A History of Italy 1943-1988′, is that the level of exploitation that underpinned the successful businesses of Emila-Romanga may not be immediately transferable outside of Italy. Working your kids for every hour that God sends, to meet Gucci’s latest handbag order, may not really be much of an advance from working your kids on the spinning looms of 1820′s Lancashire as memorably described in EP Thompson’s ‘The Making of The English Working Class’. Having said that, Emilia-Romanga does offer one reasonably clear example of the Left ‘working’. The PCI ‘model’ offers a useful point for orientating a politically viable Left in a advanced Western democracy.

Tim Johnston - July 31, 2010


Careful now, you’re talking a lot of sense :)

the example you give is an interesting one, but I wonder if the systems isn’t subsidised from the very parts of Italy they reject – such as Turin?
Such projects – a voluntary, co-operative, and genuinely people-friendly one – could serve as a model for similar ones in Ireland, but I’m not sure that’s what Jim means by money being hard to control; there’s a difference between a voluntary system such as the one you describe (where, presumably non-communists have already left the region) and one where the entire country is forced to participate.

Jim (again),
I would also like to know more about the Lynch era, but stimuli have a tendency to do what WorldByStorm described the other day – act as a prop for bad decisions and malinvestments. When they’re used for big public projects, they do ok, but only if the project was needed in the first place – and the argument should be made, why wasn’t it done during the boom? (answer = misallocation of resources) – otherwise they’re just white elephants.

13. nd - July 31, 2010

“nd” didn’t write the above it was Fergal

14. Fergal - July 31, 2010

OOps, the above two contributions were written by Fergal

Tomboktu - August 2, 2010

Should somebody with access go and change the “nd”s to “Fergal”? (Or the other way around?)

15. fergal - July 31, 2010

CMK- many thanks for your comments.When I’m asked about a “socialist” model I never give Cuba or N Korea as a model but the Emilia-Romagna(ER) region in Italy ..like freedom and civil liberies too much and it ties neatly into the old slogan “socialism without freedom is slavery,freedom without socialism is slavery”.I think the Left should now be asking the question “Is there another way” as opposed to playing the numbers game with the finance whizzkids, in other shifting the parameteres of the media driven debate/propaganda.There are other models,Scandinavia,the French Statist model the Mondragon complex in the Basque country,Cuba,Venezuela etc.I have a sneaking suspicion that the neglect of ER as a model by the Left might be linked to various prejudices against Italian but I’m only guessing here.ER is of course no Utopia but I think it has an innovative,people friendly “economy”
Tim, I agree this could “serve as a model”.Plenty of non Communists in Emilia Romagna(ER) although they rarely(if ever?) win electionsActually,thousands of communists would have been forced to flee when Mussolini arrived in power.If anything ER subsidizes the poorer parts of the South being part of the richer north.Of course the difference between “voluntary” and “forced” participation is quite simple the voluntary has a far far greater chance of working.What I was getting at was that the region is self-sufficient and seems insulated from shocks in the world economy,despite the words of one Mr Lenihan”the whole world is going through a crisis” /”I’m willing to help other contries in need of financial advice” ER’s rate of unemployment has remained stubbornly … low 5-6 per cent

Tomboktu - August 2, 2010

Erik Olin Wright writes about Mondragon in his new book (some chapters of which are available online).

16. Jim Monaghan - August 1, 2010

Interesting about the Italian and Basque models. Both driven by political movements. One CP and the other Basque nationalism, interestingly set up on the advice of a Basque priest. By alas I am not convinced they can easily be replicated. Capitalism can exist with minority deviations.
Bizzarely the Irish state and believe it or not Franco Spain had a lot of state control of the economy.I remember some figure that Ireland had a greater proportion of state run companies than England.
Agree totally about voluntary, the nostalgia for the Eastern bloc leaves me cold. I feel that some comrades like the idea of ordering people about.
Another way, yes, but it should be spelled out with real figures, starting with the gap between revenue into the state and expenditure. On the USA a lot of people on the left feel that with its military adventures and its free use of the printing press to make money it is overextended by a huge amount.
Can I add a case for at least 2 new income tax rates. Conor on Dublin Opinion said that the average wage was something around 30 grand. Then this should be at the standard rate. Every multiple of this should attract a higher tax rate. At the very least anyone on over 80 grand should be paying between 60% and 85%.
I would cap all state salaries at the max of the Taoiseachs one.
There is me trying to collect the money for a stimulus.
I see some merit in diverting tax from VAT to income tax.

17. fergal - August 1, 2010

Cheers Jim for these thoughtful comments.I don’t think thre Left can win the numbers game and “spelling it out with real figures” will be grist to the mill of the Right.Talking strictly from a tactical point of view of course,the need to provide alternative models and examples.Take the Credit Union(CU)a functioning financial cooperative that isn’t getting billions in handouts from the State and isn’t laying off thousands of workers unlike the financial whizzkids in the banks.Isn’t it deeply ironic that 1 the “amateurs” that run their CUs are still in the black and 2 the financial group where you have a say (annual dividends,electing CU boards) is still standing while the “give us the money and we’ll do what we know to be best behind closed doors” crowd have gone belly up!
Providing models and I’m sure people like Michael Taft or TASC can cost one and laying the blame for the current mess on the shoulders of the neo-liberals and their pernicious creed of “all for some” instead of “some for all” is where the Left should be at.

Tim Johnston - August 1, 2010

excellent point, Fergal, I wonder why the CUs remained honest in such a culture of corruption? And that’s in spite of the state trying to make them fall in line with the banks a few years back. Contrast this with the US Savings&Loan scandals a good few years back, where the S&L were far more renegade than the banks.
I imagine the CUs just have a more rigid fractional lending policy than the banks, who were down to -what? – 3-4%? Their lack of flexibility in that way may have been what saved them.

18. fergal - August 1, 2010

Cheers Tim,not only the state, especially Charlie Mcgreevy,but so called financial consultants who were hawking unethical”investments” to CUs up and down the country under the guise of modernisation!
Maybe the CUs remained more honest because there is some form of community participation and control?

CMK - August 1, 2010

Fergal, I think you’ve contributed something really important. The point that what are, essentially, worker controlled financial institutions are still functioning, for the most part, efficiently and effectively is one that seems (surprise!, surprise!) to have been overlooked in the ‘debate’ thus far. The CU example should be rammed home everytime some jerk tries to argue that workers can’t manage anything and that worker control would lead to industrial chaos and anarchy (in the negative sense).

I may be wrong, but I think the agricultural co-ops might have something to offer the Left in terms of indigenous examples of the efficacy of local, worker control. Weren’t most of them ‘de-mutualised’ over the past twenty odd years?

EWI - August 2, 2010

Weren’t most of them ‘de-mutualised’ over the past twenty odd years?

Yes, and been regretting it ever since (a serious effort to re-mutualise one in the last six months only came undone because the asking price was exorbitant).

19. fergal - August 2, 2010

Cheers CMK I think it’s crucial to offer alternatives and quite often they already exist!

20. Jim Monaghan - August 2, 2010

Sorry to say but some of the credit unions lost the run of themselves, albeit on a smaller scale. Interesting that they are being used as an excuse to bail out the bond holders in Anglo because some of them have bonds.
Yes, there is a role for them and the Mondragon as well. But it is not a full solution.Outside of a total rejection of Capitalism it remains for the left all hues to spell out how they would be different. It is not just a matter of good and bad capitalists, it is the nature of the beast.
Again it costs what 52 billion to run the state, 38 billion is being brought in in revenues. This is a huge gap, bigger by far than most in the EU. Maybe Greece and Spain are worse. I know it sis not the same but if you went to your bank manager (or the credit union) and said income 38 grand, expenditure 52 grand, prospects vague but it will be good, what would your answer be. I would guess you would be directed to the sub prime lenders or a moneylender (they know how to enforce payment).I find the mantras a bist abstract. EG invest in SMEs. This is a vague concept. Most SMEs are dependent on the big companies either directly or indirectly. Give wage rises to the public service they will buy cars etc and start a boom. Yes, one school teacher said as much in a letter to the IT.
A targeted stimulus but what is the target.

21. fergal - August 2, 2010

Jim,point taken some of the CUs did lose the run of themselves,some have built strangely fancy branches and some have pursued borrowers with too much relish,but their picture is globally positive,Anglo’s new HQ on the docks of Dublin was to cost 500 million if my memory is correct!
On a separate note Has anybody ever heard Colm”the reality is ” McCarthy mention Anglo-Irish in has cost cutting?Ever?

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