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FF’s historic role? October 20, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Aiden Regan in the SBP had an interesting piece on the role of the state in the economy, particularly after Covid-19. In it he argued that:

In order to make this relationship work, and to ensure that these economic resources are used effectively and efficiently, the government needs a vision for the role of the state in the economy.Historically, it was Fianna Fáil which provided this role for the Irish state. It is hard to clearly identify what exactly its vision was, other than to say it was influenced by the conservative Catholic Church and republican philosophies of citizenship. Over time this vision became more muddied, and was much more influenced by the low-tax liberal philosophy of the Progressive Democrats.

And:

If you are someone who believes in low taxes, and a small public sector, and a state that provides minimal social insurance, then you are probably deeply uncomfortable with the role of the state in the economy right now. You are most likely hoping that the expansion of government expenditures on consumption and investment is a short-term emergency response to the public health crisis.

Whereas:

But what if it is not? What if we are witnessing the beginning of a new era of public sector expansion, and a new role for the state in the economy? If you don’t believe that the state ought to be expanding public services, and don’t believe that the state ought to be reshaping and creating markets, then you are unlikely to have a vision for what the future role of the state should be.

So:

…in a sense, the crucial question facing voters is whether they want a liberal-centre right approach to the state, or a centre-left social democratic one. The two are based on very different philosophies.

Regan argues that in the current dispensation that means in a polity where coalitions are the means by which governments are formed FG will ‘anchor’ one side of this and SF likely will anchor the other. Interestingly he argues that ‘austerity’ has been debunked. Perhaps so, but how does the centre-right function in that context. I’d hesitantly suggest that it will act as it always has, pushing smaller state expenditures and so forth. In other words business as usual as they do business.


And there’s another factor. He rightly points to the manner in which there has been an extension of state activity since the 1940s, though actually I think it can be seen much earlier than that, pushing into areas previously unthought of for state intervention. But we’ve also seen a withdrawal from other areas – both for ideological reasons post-1970s and for expedience as governments sought through intermediary bodies to allow others take responsibility for various socially oriented mechanisms (think of the plethora of non-state or state adjacent bodies that have emerged in say in areas dealing with communities).

But a decisive change was in the nature of expectations. The idea that states would directly, or indirectly, offer certain services. That expectation is more difficult to do away with – and another angle on that is that it is unfeasible in advanced capitalist states to do so for many reasons including the need for societal stability. For all those reasons I tend to the view that the rupture he seems to expect may be less dramatic than he might think. That in many ways the arguments of the next thirty years are likely to be much the same in relation to the role of the state in the economy as those of the previous thirty or forty years.

Level 5 October 20, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is going to be very very tough on people. Workers, businesses, and people in general. This, the restoration of the PUP to €350 for those earning over €400 a week, was the very least that could be done. There’s a lot of people out there who are facing unemployment or have already lost their jobs. Every day that passes is another day lost for them. I’ve a neighbour who learned only last month that their job in an entertainment sector was gone due to the pre-Level 5 restrictions and the reality of the pandemic.

That incenses me on their behalf – because we went through lock-down in March through to the Summer and now in October all that seems to have been wasted. They were and remain cautious, sensible, and yet through no fault of their own have no job, at least until matters resume something closer to normality. And that experience is played out across this state (and island).

There’s many places to apportion blame and many areas where mistakes have been made. Reopening too quickly – and in effect shredding their own plan to do so. Not reopening on a sectoral basis and trialing same in order to see where and how flare ups should or could be dealt with. Not having a strategy as to where we would be by now. Look at the Level’s plan and marvel at how it doesn’t come close to ‘normality’ even at Level 1, and how we haven’t been close to Level 1 either. Ignoring or wishing away numbers as they increased from mid-Summer. There’s simply no way any rational examination of matters could have led anyone to a conclusion other than that we would wind up here given the manner in which those figures were increasing since the original ‘reopening’. The nonsense of a fortnight ago was particularly pitiful in that regard. Small wonder there’s incomprehension on the part of the Pat Leahy’s of this world at the government’s supposed U-turn. Only by willfully not facing up to this could one have expected it to have played out differently. And only by the narrowest of framings could one seriously argue the government had ‘weakened its own authority’ given that had predated this government with the too rapid reopening earlier in the year – and even then that is to ignore the actual health reasons for what is now taking place.

Amazing to read Leahy say the following:

There are two reasons for the U-turn.The first is that the Government was genuinely spooked by the spread of the virus – fears that were stoked by warnings from Holohan and Nphet, who told Ministers over the weekend that the “rapid deterioration” would continue to worsen. The public health warnings were that it was only a matter of time before the hospitals and ICU units began to fill up again.

And then;

The second reason is that politically the Government was in a corner. If the Government turned out to be wrong about resisting the lockdown, and was forced into it in the coming weeks, perhaps over Christmas, it would face a heavy political price. Holding out in the face of Nphet’s advice was always a risky political position. But folding now is not without risk either.

And;

The opposition within Government will be amplified outside it. The economic costs could be extremely damaging. There must now be a question of whether the schools remain open – a key test of the administration’s ability to manage the country.

Those paragraphs cannot be written unless the underlying viewpoint is one that doesn’t appreciate or wish to appreciate the gravity of the situation. How could any government of this state not be ‘spooked’ by the spread of the virus? The administration in the North has been ‘spooked’ and elsewhere…well Wales just went into a two-week lockdown.

Speaking of which perhaps most the most conspicuous failure of government was an inability to speak hard truth to people about the nature of where we and the rest of Europe and the world are. As noted in comments yesterday there’s a very strange sort of aversion to reality in all the stuff about Ireland being an outlier in terms of restrictions, or in Leahy’s comments above, when even the most cursory examination of the papers demonstrates the situation in Paris, Madrid, Germany, the UK (whole cities under lockdowns and somehow the penny hasn’t dropped here?)…and on and on. Even, as noted last night, with significant restrictions introduced in Belgium:

It comes as governments across Europe impose new restrictions to try to rein in the rate of infections, with Sweden allowing local authorities to introduce additional rules to cope with regional outbreaks, in a departure from its policy so far.Though a resurgence has not yet taken hold in Sweden to the same extent as other European countries, the number of people in intensive care is rising and authorities have conceded that there is little sign of the population-level acquired immunity some had hoped for.

But none of this latter is news, in the sense that it has been clearly coming for weeks and months (here’s another example from the IT from someone who has been very quiet on the issue and even now doesn’t begin to tackle the actual spread of the virus and the implications of that as the country goes to Level 5). The tussle between central and local government in Madrid played out over the last three weeks. Who was looking at that in the Dublin or Cork media? You’d have to wonder. How could anyone think Ireland would be immune in any sense to all of these dynamics given the approach we have taken has been similar to those other places.

Forget the outright denialists and chancers who peddle misinformation. They’re not the worst of this as it happens. Indeed it seems to me that it is those who shout loudest about others being ‘panicked’ and ‘fearful’ about all this who themselves seem to exhibit those two emotions most clearly. And in a way who can blame them. This is a dismal place to be. We’ve seen societal change on a scale and in a time period undreamt of even a short twelve months ago. And it hasn’t been for the better. I don’t care about wearing a mask, but for some I can well imagine it is a terrifying reminder of how matters have changed from normality. Easier in a way to think that there is no problem than to face up to the scale of what the problem is.

But is those who should, and one suspects do on some level, know better who are most at fault. Parts of a media elite, some in politics who appear credulous in the extreme, and some though not all in lobbying and business. Their efforts to push soft denialism, to offer ‘living with the virus’ lines, to big up marginal voices whose own words show them up for being at best deluded, to almost seem to pretend that the virus is a nothing, that if only “we” all could through some force of will ignore it all would be well and “we” could go back to “our” international holidays and “our” nice dinners out and drinks and our… well, you name it… and all this with some people, but with luck not them, catching it and getting new chronic conditions that they didn’t have before or a number actually dying from it. Because that’s the reality of their line, when one scrubs away all the rhetoric.

And the IT editorial on that today is a perfect example of same – offering no approach, no definition of how it is possible to ‘live’ with a viral pandemic in any meaningful way.

The entire premise of the “Living with Covid” framework was co-existence. After a quiet summer, during which test-and-trace was stepped down and even pubs were allowed to reopen, the country began rapidly to move through those levels. Where we find ourselves now, facing into a six-week closure, is the opposite of living with Covid.

And not a word about how so much of what has happened was the result of pressures from lobbyists.

The current iteration of Level 5 is odd. And perhaps the following:

Many non-essential retail outlets and hairdressers will have to close, while a reduction in off-licence opening hours is also under consideration. The possibility of a click-and-collect service for some non-essential stores is being examined though as the Government aims to maintain as much economic activity as possible.

One would think that hairdressers were – at current levels of PPE – fairly safe. Similarly with click and collect outlets, and in truth some retail. Indeed it’s socialising, gatherings, those sort of areas where problems would seem to be most likely to arise. But where has the concerted push by the state to underscore that message been? The effort to convince sufficient people that sacrifices need to be made in order to get us through and out of this? Conspicuous by their absence from administrations that seem to have been speaking markedly different lines from one minute to the next (and this piece here also from the IT from Simon Carswell at least has a sense that it understands the actual problems and how it is likely going to be necessary to enforce restrictions).

So what is next? Well, the least, the very least, should be clarity about where the state goes after Level 5. Keep in mind it’s only four or so weeks since the ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan issued by the government. That wasn’t a great success. The latest is:

The aim among ministers is to try to ensure businesses are back up and running before Christmas, amid hopes the country could return to Level 3 by the end of November, and Level 2 in the days before 25 December.

This seems a return to the past, doesn’t it? And all too easy to imagine the potential for matters to flare up again over December. But what is the longer term objective?

To get people up and about, the economy up and about, the society up and about (and note how little the term society is used in all this in discussions at any level) the need to quash the virus and/or control and contain it requires much the same approaches. Are there efficient track and trace systems in place? I’ve never thought a zero-Covid approach was unattainable, even in the context of the border. The international travel angle is tricky, but not impossible to manage, the reality of more extensive restrictions in the North something that should have been seized on by the administration in this state as an opportunity – and of course the need for an all-island response has never been clearer.

So does the state try to suppress this to the greatest possible extent, the better to allow something much closer to normality to emerge the far side of it? Or will matters return to the limbo of the past number of months where things are somewhat open but mostly closed? That stuff about Level 2 seems all too like it.

And that’s no progress at all for all those – all of us – mentioned in the first paragraph.

Interview with Mick O’Reilly. October 19, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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The Irish History Show Podcast has an excellent interview with long time activist and Socialist Mick O’Reilly.

Available here

Independent Left: Scottish Indendence October 19, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Colm Breathnach has written a feature on Scottish independence for IL.

Austrian news October 19, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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A very welcome post from GregTimo

Small good news. In Vienna, Austria, support for the extreme right has fallen by about 2/3rds combined (the bigger FPO reported losing 4/5ths of its actual votes In Der Standard below). Corruption scandals and a major split led to major abstentions it has been reported (also a shift to the conservative OVP which stole it’s anti immigrant clothes to an extent). A welcome setback though in the country where the populist extreme right have been strong for decades. FPO is the main extreme right party, HC a splitter party. SPO the Social Democrats, Grune=Greens , OVP conservatives, Neos = Centrist (neo-)Liberals, Links = Left alliance A large Postal vote count is nearly complete, but the final result is not expected to be much different than reported belowEnglish language ‘liberal’ sounding outlet (an American emigre runs it) https://metropole.at/vienna-election-results-2020/

A ‘live ticker’ in German (‘social liberal’ outlet according it’s wiki) https://www.derstandard.at/jetzt/livebericht/2000120892953/wien-wahl-2020vorlaeufiges-ergebnis-ist-da?responsive=false
More in German, on the abstensions (Turnout is reported down 9.5% on wiki, even SPO losing votes despite a small increase in % ). https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000120862888/warum-so-viele-wiener-die-wahl-verweigerten
While the result was seen as an overall Social Democrat victory in their long time stronghold, Simultaneous District elections resulted in small breakthroughs for the latest incarnation of a Left alliance, Links (which includes the main Communist party, KPO, long allied with the German Left party). A sort of rising from the ashes in Vienna (KPO’s last stronghold is elsewhere around Graz), but hardly a major advance. The Left went from only 1% to around 2% wiki reports below https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000120834645/wien-wahl-2020-mehr-rot-in-den-bezirken-mit-tuerkisen And the usual wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Viennese_state_election


On KPO’s long stagnation and struggle for electoral survival https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Austria Jacobin basically puff piece on Links not mentioning it is an alliance not a new party. They have yet to follow up https://jacobinmag.com/2020/09/red-vienna-austria-social-democrats-links-city-council No proper analysis is English I know of, the Left’s sites https://links-wien.at/https://www.facebook.com/linkswien A wiki in German https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/LINKS_(Politische_Partei)
On the national polls a radically different picture with the SPO decline yet to be halted (lingering around 19-20%), but the Greens in government with the OVP since 2019 still doing well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_Austrian_legislative_election
However the SPO despite it’s national troubles and overall lameness is not going away anytime soon I would conclude. The apparently still KPO dominated Left should have reversed it’s decline before now you’d imagine. All in all a hard to understand situation lacking analysis Thin as it is, an old Jacobin analysis from Feb from a Left source concentrating on the triangulating centrist Greens https://jacobinmag.com/2020/01/austria-greens-peoples-party-sebastion-kurz-coalition 2019 national election analysis from same source on the broad center-left debacle, except for the Greens https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/10/austria-elections-peoples-party-greensThin analysis from the German public broadcaster DWhttps://www.dw.com/en/vienna-voters-deal-blow-to-the-far-right-in-local-elections/a-55236783

2 analyses from the Social Liberal Euroactiv January on the SPO Provincial win due to local factors (A Danish SocDem style swing right on immigration but lean left on social welfare issues) https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/could-spos-burgenland-win-be-beacon-of-red-hope-for-austrias-social-democrats/ On the Vienna election, Oct 12 https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/wer-wird-wien-regieren/ It would seem that these local bosses now dominate the national SPO party, especially the Vienna mayor and may push out the unpopular national leader, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, but little is written in English about Vienna’s mayor Ludwig https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ludwig (his coming from the social housing system being the only salient fact there)
I assume that the SPO and Greens both are benefiting from the psychological effect of the Pandemic where anyway competent rulers are being rewarded. The famous (but I assume degraded by neo-liberalism) Vienna social housing model may be a factor in sustaining SPO too. The reports on Der Standard indicate the SPO regaining control of those locales where the FPO had overtaken them in some in the last election. But I remain overall scratching my head.

One more kink to these elections. In the District councils where non Austrian residents can vote, a marginally better result for the Left/Links and worse for the SocDem SPO. The main vote was for the city municipal council which doubles up as a State council. Austria being a federal state, much like Germany. In German 
https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000120920899/kleinparteien-ganz-gross-was-links-soez-bier-und-strache-planen

ILA Podcast #12: Informal Archives, From Print to Digital, Local Government, and Left Organisations October 19, 2020

Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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Direct download:
Mp3 format (31.32 MB)
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We’ve been very lucky in the podcast so far to have had guests from a range of political activity, including elected representatives; campaigners, organisers and activists; and people involved in archiving political material.

In this episode we discuss clips from each of those guests to illustrate four themes that have come up so far: the role of informal archives; the shift from print to digital publication, and consequently digital organising; the benefits and the limitations of local government seats; and the nature and diversity of Left organisations.

Thanks to everyone who has listened so far! We’ve more guests lined up in the coming weeks.


If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Left Archive: Hands off Seán Russell, leaflet, Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland, 2020 October 19, 2020

Posted by leftarchivist in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link.

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

This document is from a relatively newly formed group, Anti-Imperialist Action, Ireland. A panel on the reverse side notes:

Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland is an All-Ireland Socialist Republican mass-organisation dedicated to combat and resist British, EU and US imperialism on the island of Ireland. AIA owes its allegiance to the All-Ireland People’s Republic; Proclaimed in Arms in Dublin 1916 and established on January 21st 1919.

Campaigning since 2017, AIA is building a People’s Resistance and bring all progressive forces into a united front against fascism, capitalism and imperialism. As a revolutionary socialist republican organisation, AIA continues in the best traditions of Irish Republicanism and the International Communist movement. As an All-Ireland body the organisation has coistí, events and actions across the country. If there’s isn’t a coiste in your area get in touch and form one!

The leaflet argues:

There will be few in the Fairview area that are not aware that recently the Sean Russell Monument in Fairview Park, had once again been defaced. Painted with the colours of an LGBTQ flag, it has certainly confused republicans given that Russell and his comrades were not known for the targeting of homosexuals. The use then of a form of the Gay Pride colours in the attack is nonsensical, displaying the apparent ignorance of the perpetrators who do not speak on behalf of the LGBTQ community. The reality is that this stunt has provided a useful gift to the right and far-right in Ireland that seeks influence through dividing the working classes and questions remain over whether it were these forces that are responsible. Supporting this suspicion is the fact that the rainbow flag in question was painted upside down.

And:

Taking their cue from Varadkar, members of Ireland’s disparate fascist movement have, in recent months, been posing at monuments to Ireland’s patriot dead for photo opportunities to put up on social media.

And it continues:

The Sean Russell monument after all, is one that is dedicated to the IRA in the dark days of the 30s and 40s and requires some respect. Naturally then, Irish Republicans will not allow the current crop of Irish fascists to claim our monuments or our patriot dead, or indeed to associate themselves with the revolutionary struggle for national liberation and an All­ Ireland Socialist Republic. It was the Black Panther Party member Assata Shakur who once warned, “It’s got to be one of the most basic principles of living: always decide who your enemies are for yourself, and never let your enemies choose your enemies for you. “

The leaflet is particularly notable for appearing during the pandemic when many forms of political expression and activity have been curtailed.


Any other documents issued by AIA are very welcome. Their website is here.

The universe before the universe… October 18, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…not sure how robust this theory but it is fascinating…

There was an earlier universe before the Big Bang, and evidence for its existence can still be observed in black holes, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist has said. Sir Roger Penrose made the claim after recently winning the award for breakthroughs in Einstein’s general theory of relativity and proof of the existence of black holes. Sir Roger argues that the existence of unexplained spots of electromagnetic radiation in the sky – known as ‘Hawking Points’ – are remnants of a previous universe.

And:

It is part of the “conformal cyclic cosmology” theory of the universe, and it is suggested that these points are the final expulsion of energy called ‘Hawking radiation’, transferred by black holes from the older universe.

For those interested in the conformal cyclic cosmology theory go no further than here.

Speaking of which here’s an intriguing side note:

In 2015, Gurzadyan and Penrose also discussed the Fermi paradox, the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence but high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.

Within conformal cyclic cosmology, the cosmic microwave background provides the possibility of information transfer from one aeon to another, including of intelligent signals within information panspermia concept.

Imagine that. Not information from one period of the universe to another – and keep in mind the age of the universe between 13-14bn years old already, but from one universe to its successor.

Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements from this week… October 18, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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The song remains the same.

According to conventional political wisdom it is only a matter of time before Sinn Féin takes over the reins of government but there is nothing inevitable about it, and this budget could channel politics in a different direction and ensure that the centre does hold, just as it did in the face of the financial crisis a decade ago.

And:

The other vital element of the political strategy will be to convince the electorate that the radical alternative being promoted by Sinn Féin and its hard left allies will destroy the basis of the country’s prosperity given their deep-seated hostility to the enterprise economy, foreign direct investment and the direction of the EU.

A slight change in tone. But next to no comments under the piece. Expect normal service to be resumed next week.

If infection rates can be beaten back and restrictions eased to the point where hospitality and tourism businesses can trade to some degree, this measure’s laser-like efficiency will soon become apparent.

From the same piece the following. Does that initial calculation hold up?

If social distancing takes away half of a tourism business’s capacity, then it must make the capacity that it retains twice as profitable to keep afloat. The reduction in tourism’s VAT rate from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent adds 4.5 percentage points directly onto the margin of most transactions. That will, in many cases, make every individual customer almost twice as profitable as before.

Michael Clifford in the Examiner is very exercised by the response to his piece responding to the scenes outside the Dáil last Saturday. Very exercised. So much so that avowed far rightists are transformed into a ‘right-wing crowd’…

Of course, there are differences in their ostensible political philosophies. The right-wing crowd are anti-immigrant and subscribe largely to a right-wing Catholic agenda. A large cohort of the anti-fascists claims to stand for a left-wing brand of nationalism. But when violence is introduced, those differences dissolve. Suppressing opposition through violence on the streets of a democratic country is an inherently fascist action.

No mention, needless to say, of the violence in previous weeks meted out by the far-right.

Independent Left: The Kilmichael Ambush October 17, 2020

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The Kilmichael Ambush has been a hotly contested topic ever since Peter
Hart tried to revise the history of the event – here’s Conor Kostick’s
take on it.

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