Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dublin government declares Class War

On Tuesday, the Twenty Six County Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan exploded the myth that we live in an economic democracy with the announcement that, far from the people being sovereign, they would be paying the debts of private banks for decades to come. By his actions, Minister Lenihan has confirmed the contempt in which the political establishment holds the very people who elect them.

The detail of the further bail-out of the banking system is truly staggering in its scale: a total of €21 billion to rescue a failed and corrupt system.

Of this total, €8.3 billion will be pumped into Anglo-Irish Bank, for so long the play-thing of the Twenty-Six County state's biggest property developers. It doesn't end there either, as Minister Lenihan announced that a further €10 billion will be required for AIB alone. Prior to Tuesday's announcement, AIB had already received €4 billion of taxpayers' money. To put this €21 billion in context, the combined health budget and education budget in the year that the bank guarantee scheme was agreed was €23 billion.

The consequences of this decision will be felt for a long time; the mass of people face unemployment, reduced public services and chronic levels of debt for generations to come.

Across Ireland, there are now half a million people out of work, while, in Donegal alone, 21,000 are unemployed and many more are being forced into that most Irish of career moves – emigration.

The right of the people to quality healthcare, housing and education is being made subordinate to the interest of banks, speculators and developers. Workers pension rights are being sold off so that the fat-cats that bankrolled Fianna Fáil for decades can be saved.

On Tuesday, many of these property developers, almost all of whom regularly attended the Fianna Fáil fundraising tent at the Galway races during the so called boom years, had their loans transferred into NAMA. These developers, facilitated by their political wing in Fianna Fáíl, simply inflated the property bubble, forcing thousands of households to take out 100 per cent mortgages on homes that were incredibly over-valued. These householders are now expected to pick up the tab for this gambling greed.

The consequences of the bank guarantee scheme of September 2008; a scheme that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party and Sinn Féin all supported, is now painfully evident. The loans and deposits of all banks were guaranteed on that September night in 2008 with little detail provided as to the exact state of the banks' loan books. Any semblance of democracy has been truly torn to shreds and all that is offered is the tired Thatcherite mantra, 'There is no alternative'.

The same parties that got us into this situation and who voted for a scheme that has led us nowhere but to the brink of disaster cannot now pose as a radical alternative – regardless of whether they are inside or outside of government in the Twenty-Six Counties.

Voters in Donegal should keep this fact in mind for the upcoming by-election.

No alternative, it seems, to bailing out the rich and powerful in Irish society with billions of euro of taxpayers’ money, while workers, who actually created the wealth, are consigned to the dole queues. With high rates of unemployment, bosses are using the recession to try and force down the pay and working conditions of those still in work.

War has been declared on workers who are being treated once again as mere cogs in a profit-producing machine. That these egregious amounts of bail out funds can be made available now to rescue the capitalist banking system gives the lie to the notion that there is not enough money in society to take care of the social needs of people.

It is a lie that this type of society serves the needs of anyone but a small minority. We, the working people, need to take as our starting point in our understanding of this the fact that it is the working class alone who are the creators of wealth and that it is only through exploitation that wealth passes out of their control into that of the capitalist. Most importantly, we need to understand that this bank bail out presents stark and condemning proof, if ever more proof were needed, of the fact that, in this type of society, there is an irresolvable conflict between the interests of the capitalist class and those of the working class.

The task for socialists and republicans now is to find ways of highlighting this reality to the working and unemployed people that are the victims of capitalism.

This opinion piece by éirígí Tír Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig appeared in the Easter Sunday edition April 5 2010 Donegal on Sunday newspaper. Just click here to see it

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