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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.

Comments»

1. sonofstan - October 20, 2020

“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”

IBEC has probably replaced the bishops and customers replaced citizens in the rather thin view of the world in FF now.

Liked by 1 person


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