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Neo-liberalism and the Irish polity April 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Just noticed this from Vincent Brown’s column in the Irish Times.

Joining the euro, the single currency, was a momentous change, for it involved the surrender of a large chunk of what remained of our sovereignty. It opened the floodgates to cheap money, the property bubble and the financial crash. But, most crucially, it required the incorporation into our political culture and public policy of the ideology of neoliberalism – the supremacy of markets, light touch or no touch regulation, privatisation and all the attendant inequalities that such policies ordain.

Not that there were not pressures domestically to go with that infection. Mary Harney (more Boston that Berlin) was perhaps the foremost apostle of neoliberalism but she had ardent disciples in Bertie Ahern, Charlie McCreevy, Richard Bruton and some silent ones in the Labour Party

It’s an interesting assessment overall and quite persuasive, certainly the EU project appears to have ever more tightly embedded us and other member states in a very specific definition of the orthodoxy, but what about the last line in it?

I’ve always felt the 2007 LP election platform, and in particular the attitude to personal taxation, was worthy of much greater consideration than it was perhaps afforded in terms of what it represented in respect of the positioning of that party and how it saw itself as much as critiques from beyond it. But the term ‘silent ones’ is genuinely fascinating for what it implies.

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1. ivorthorne - April 17, 2014

There was a time when I was pretty pro-EU. Even when I wasn’t in favor of specific moves or policies, the idea of Europe was important and the idea of co-operation and integration across Europe seemed more important than what they were agreeing to do after all.

These days, I wonder if the EU has gone too far to be salvageable. I would love to think that these changes could be reversed but . . .

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2. doctorfive - April 17, 2014

I have often seen Brendan Halligan described as a ‘former labour politician’ :)

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3. hardcorefornerds - April 18, 2014

Is the EU really about “light touch or no touch regulation” though? Or is it regulation towards market ends, within which left-social aims have diminished importance (perhaps with a highpoint in the 1990s)? I think it’s better to see the EU as ordoliberal rather than neoliberal, at least in the German influence.

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CL - April 19, 2014

Good point. ‘Ordoliberalism’ is the form of neoliberalism in Germany. One could also call it interventionist neoliberalism, or authoritarian neoliberalism. Ludwig Erhard’s ‘social market’ required government intervention to promote competition.

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4. irishleftreview - April 22, 2014

” It opened the floodgates to cheap money, the property bubble and the financial crash.”
No mention then of how the massive expansion of Irish banking after 2002 occured because of their tapping into the shadow banking system, mainly the UK ones, that had really started to take off at that time (after a more gradual expansion throughout the 90s). This is now a matter of public record and easy to verify. Browne however, likes to cite Patrick Honohan who made the claim that it was the Euro that was behind the expansion of credit in Ireland, even though it was the Central Bank who provided the study (admittedly after Honohan wrote his two reports on the banking crisis).
“But, most crucially, it required the incorporation into our political culture and public policy of the ideology of neoliberalism – the supremacy of markets, light touch or no touch regulation, privatisation and all the attendant inequalities that such policies ordain.”

Odd then that when the neoliberal ideologues were championing their system they were citing Irish economic policy as a model.

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Ed - April 23, 2014

Do you mean that Browne is covering up these facts deliberately? What would his reasons for doing that be? Or is he just not aware of it? Or is he concentrating on one side of the question to the exclusion of others?

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irishleftreview - May 7, 2014

“Or is he just not aware of it?” Perhaps I commented as I am a little hurt. Vincent Browne subscribed to Irish Left Review and I personally sent him his copy of issue 2 in the post which includes an article that I wrote explaining all this. I even included colourful charts and everything to re-enforce the point. Like a lot of people, he’s got a potted theory which can be trotted out on such occasions. I also doubt he read the article.

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