First and Foremost – Expose the Exploitative Heart of Capitalism
January 18, 2013

From my own point of view,  I have noticed a certain trend where left wing activists are been sucked into the capitalist agenda, particularly when engaging with the media, on being requested to provide “a realistic and serious alternative”.  Recent examples of this have been where the ULA reps in the Dail were putting forward alternative budget proposals.

My own personal belief is that first and foremost, the principle objective of any left wing activist is to EXPOSE THE EXPLOITATIVE HEART OF CAPITALISM. No other facet of left wing ideology is more important, indeed if we were to look at the Marxist critique, he wrote volumes, Das Capital etc., on exposing the inherent contradictions of capitalism. Therefore my own personal manifesto would have as its primary and agenda-setting principle, a duty to expose the exploitative and virus-like nature of capitalism. In so doing the work of the left wing activist is to link every hospital bed closure, every cut in social welfare, every rise in unemployment, every hike in interest rates etc to the operations of a capitalist system. I do not believe that it is the duty of the broad left wing to “fix or offer appendages to help fix a broken capitalist system” .

Many would argue that the general public demand alternatives, and perhaps rightly so, but the answer that must come from the left wing is that it is only through the dismantling of the capitalist system that any alternative is possible. There are many options once capitalism has been removed, and dare I say it, it does not necessarily involve the imposition of a socialist or communist system either. What I believe earnestly and what I also believe will occur (and perhaps not too far in the distant future) is that through dialogue that begins in the community will rise a resistance that will be rooted in the community, across every village , town and city throughout the world. Ideally this would lead to a formation of true democracy, a democracy that would (akin to the democratic system of the Athenian city states) rise and be formatted from the bottom up. Solutions then that originate, be it a form of socialism, communism or a mixture of both or whatever, once they are grounded in community participation, have a half decent chance of success.

In that respect I believe that the duty of left wing elected reps in the Dail and elsewhere, is to expose to the general public the failure of the present form of capitalist infested democracy. They must expose to the public, the fact that the true owners of democracy are the wealthy elites, and that if voting under the present form of democracy could achieve anything those same wealthy elites would have long since abolished it. When the left wing are then asked by the mouthpieces of those same wealthy elites, the media, what their alternative is the answer is simple…. “no to capitalism” and thereafter “we will let the people decide”. While it is obvious that people cling to nationalistic fervour, I also believe that a vital cog in ending the capitalist machinery of oppression is to go global, communities throughout the world are under siege from capitalist-imposed austerity. The occupy movement are the pure patriots of the downtrodden, they have shown that it is possible to link communities across the globe in a unified offensive against the global oppressors of the possible kindness and compassion that is a capability within the heart and mind of every human being.The left wing must expose the fact that it is capitalism that drives the other non-desirable capabilities of human beings of greed, lust and fear that manifest themselves in the capitalist trademarks of war, poverty and famine.

A simple example of this lies here, what do these workers   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-the-Vita-Cortex-Workers/212225242192914 and these workers   http://globalsociology.com/2012/01/12/peripheral-subsidies-and-core-fairy-tales/ have in common!    It is the transfer of ideas and resistance across borders that will end capitalism, let’s take our cue from the capitalist oppressors, watch their methods, expose how on a global basis the “independent” think tanks attack welfare, public sector workers and healthcare and lets leave the “fixing of capitalism” to the capitalists!

gfmurphy101  (written 2.2012 on politicalworld.org ) 18.1.2013

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Legislation When ? …… The Political Rhythm Method
November 30, 2012

Let’s see. It’s nearly Christmas (extended Dáil break) so nothing can be done until January

In January, it is European Presidency celebrations so nothing can be done.

February is too close to Easter (extended Dáil break) so best to put it on hold.

April and May are just too close to Summer (extended extended Dáil break) so let’s handle it in September.

September, time for a Referendum Commission.   Need their approval before enacting legislation.

Six months later, when they report, it will be too close to Easter/Summer so best to delay until September 2014.

By this stage, way too close to Elections to deal with serious legislation, so just procrastinate until the next Dáil.

DCon 30th Nov. 2012

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Vigil for Savita Halappanavar
November 14, 2012

Vigil for Savita Halappanavar, Dail Eireann, 14. November 2012

C. Flower  14.11.2012

US Election Special
November 6, 2012

Captioned by 5intheface   6 November 2012

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Hitler is Told that Political World has won Best Political Blog at Irish Blog Awards
November 4, 2012

Where is it ?
November 1, 2012

C. Flower  1st November  2012    

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GUBU* Revisited After 30 Years – What Was Unbelievable ?
September 30, 2012

What was unbelievable?

It was unbelievable that the Minister for Justice would, a year after the hunger strikes, call the RUC for a “favour” and have a man detained in order that he not give evidence against his brother-in-law.

It was unbelievable that the minister for Finance would ask the Gardai to deliver a tape recorder to his office in order that he could tape a conversation between him and the then Minister for Economic Development.

It was unbelievable that the Minister for Justice dismiss his appointed driver and take his state car in the company with a well known singer and drive the car into a ditch in County Kerry in which the boot opened revealing Uzi sub-machine guns.

It was unbelievable that the Taoiseach, before the vote on his leadership, would have two shot pheasant delivered to the house of an opponent with a Mafia-style message simply saying “Shot on Saturday”.

It was unbelievable that the Taoiseach appoint a disaffected opposition TD as a European Commissioner in order to create a bye-election in which his sister-in-law would be his partý´s candidate.

It was unbelievable that in that bye-election, the Minister for the Environment would order trees in his constituency be uprooted and delivered to the constituency of the bye-election in order to garner votes and, when the bye-election was lost, the trees were uprooted again and brought back to their original “home”.

It was an unbelievable time!

Slim Buddha     30 September 2012

Source:   “The Boss” by Joyce and Murtagh 1983

*GUBU is an acronym standing for grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. The words were Charles Haughey’s and the acronym from Conor Cruise O’Brien, to describe the way that a serial killer was apprehended holed up in the Attorney General’s home in 1982.

Is Ireland bound by right to integrate fully into a political union motivated by interests entirely counter to ours?
September 23, 2012

There is a new political concept in recent times. It’s called being pro-European. In France and Germany (having lived in France for a year and spent a few weeks in Germany and much time among many German friends and learning the German language even whilst in France ), this seems to be pro-integration with regards to European political union. To be against such a concept, for whatever reason, is to risk being called a nationalist or anti-European.

The word nationalism means different things in different European countries. In Irish history it tends to be associated with a United Ireland, Republicanism and in some instances, to have left wing sympathies is to be either Nationalist or Republican. Irish nationalism, or republicanism for the two are oft linked, are concepts that arose out of a suppressed colonised history. 7 centuries of oppression led to the concept of an Irish Republic, first touted by Wolfe Tone in 1798.

Its roots essentially stem in part to French republican ideals, as many Irish revolutionaries in the late 18th century such as Tone and Emmet had dealings with the French Revolutionary Republic in a bid to liberate themselves from English rule and establish an Irish Republic. One modern day equivalent might be found in Scotland where nationalism in the form of the Scottish Nationalist Party has led to an independence referendum in late 2014 ( http://www.scotreferendum.com ). One thing bearing in mind is Scottish First Minister’s Alex Salmond’s desire to follow the Nordic energy fund model of Norway, and any implication that might have on Irish affairs (the status of Ulster, possible Irish reunification, possible withdrawal from the EU along with Scotland, who have been told by Jose Barroso, an unelected well paid technocrat that they will need to leave the EU if they declare independence which the Scots might look on as an opportunity) but more on that later.

In German history, nationalism has shown itself to mean something different altogether. In fact it would seem that the German establishment has developed a phobia of the word. As anyone knows, such a concept in Germany is a right wing concept due to obvious historic reasons. The fact that the two terms are intertwined in countries like Ireland, and possibly Scotland, and that they signify left wing and inclusive ideals, must only make matters more confusing for those who might be for whatever reason incapable of (or unwilling to) differentiating the concepts of self determination (the right to a people’s sovereignty, freedom and exaltation among the nations of the World) and nazism (superior nationalism or xenophobic nationalism). Fear fits a fine pair of blinkers.

In Ireland we have 3 main political parties, which are all pan European vessels. They operate on the basis that they are pro-european and anyone who opposes them must therefore be anti-european, dangerous radicals, or else extremist.

It is a little reported fact in our media that since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, we have been the victims of a creeping coup on our semi-democratic but nonetheless sovereign Irish institutions. It is funny how the Brussels accounts have not been signed off on in nearly 2 decades which shows that Europe’s elite has been investing untold sums and time in full political and economic union.

Take the European Commission for instance. Nobody elects these people, yet they represent Ireland, a constitutionally neutral country on the U.N. Security council. They would potentially have the right to decide in the not so distant future whether to send Irish people, and other people across the continent in different E.U. member states, to fight a war for economic or vested interests. Given that we live in the 1930’s this is not an altogether unrealistic prospect.

European Law now accounts for most modern Irish laws. Ireland may no longer have the right to military neutrality since the passing of the EU Treaty. A very good legal paper by Karen Devine which she composed after the first Lisbon Treaty campaign ( http://doras.dcu.ie/14898/1/Irish_Ne…bon_Treaty.pdf ) states the following: In the Lisbon Treaty referendum, neutrality emerged as the most divisive issue in referendum debates (IMS/DFA, 2008: 25) and was the second most important reason why people voted ‘no’ (IMS/DFA, 2008: 14). Evidently, many Irish people have consistently demonstrated a belief through their voting behaviour that further integration in the area of EU foreign, security and defence policy is incompatible with the concept of neutrality they support.’

Since the passing of the Lisbon Treaty at the second go, largely due to ‘vote yes for jobs’, it has emerged that the Treaty, which no member of the government or opposition (the current shower) who supported it at the time publicly stated they had read, fears have emerged over article 42.7 which states a need for ‘mutual defence’ in the case of EU member states. Thus it appears, that after the Lisbon Treaty passed in 2009, Ireland had, under undemocratic threats of economic chaos from both home and abroad (‘yes for jobs’, and Sarkozy’s visit to Dublin being but small examples), ceded its right to assert neutrality which has been a key factor in determining our sovereignty throughout the history of the state, most notably during World War Two when despite threats of invasion from Churchill’s British government (who along with America occupied our Nordic neighbour Iceland during the war), from Hitler’s Germany and even from America, southern Ireland stayed neutral for the duration of the war. As Devine rightly states in her paper, many Irish people quite reasonably oppose and have opposed on many an occasion since the Single European Act of 1987 full EU integration on the grounds of neutrality alone.

Another way in which the EU has creepingly come to control our affairs was the establishment of the Euro. In 2002 we adopted the common currency, which flooded a booming Irish economy with cheap credit, something we have been paying for the last 5 years, as we are constantly told we all partied and need to clean up our own mess and to front Europe’s banking bill 100% on our own shoulders (despite the fact that the cheap credit which could not have been made available had we still had the Punt was lent by central European Banks and most notably, the ECB, at rates of below 1%). The question then arises, who sought to lend this much money to an Irish economy which did not need such credit as it was already booming ? The answer in the main, is Germany(by which I mean German businesses, German investors, the ECB which is based in Frankfurt and which has an uncanny reputation for following German Monetary policy and German banks).

This excellent article by Laura Noonan not someone given to criticising bigger European economies, states the following:

As of early 2011, it was known that German Banks were exposed to Irish banks for over 21 Billion euros, which explains why ‘Germany, along with other European countries, has been vigorously opposing Ireland’s efforts to enforce losses on certain categories of bank bondholders. German banks were owed another €64.7bn by Irish enterprises, suggesting that the banks have an interest in making sure Ireland survives the economic crisis. The final sum owed by Ireland to German banks was €2.3bn, attributed to “general government” debts. Germany’s exposure to Ireland significantly exceeds the country’s €25bn exposure to stricken Greece and its €27.5bn exposure to crisis-ridden Portugal.’

When understanding why Ireland has, under considerable duress from fellow European states, forsaken its’ economic sovereignty entirely, it is worth bearing in mind that the governments of some fellow European states, especially that of Germany, have stated that as our banks borrowed from their banks, all Irish people must pay back these banking debts to ensure no European bank closes, thus the reason for Ireland’s so called bailout in 2010. Germany was far more exposed to Irish banks and businesses than it was to those of any other EU Member State.

Considering the German media’s castigation of a Greek society and a Greek government whose banks and businesses owe(or rather owed as we, and most likely the Greeks as well have paid much of the European bondholders back, having being told by the ECB to do so) far less than our banks and businesses do (not forgetting the Spiegel’s recent headline on why Athens must leave the Euro) to Germany, it is worth remembering the type of people who lent this money ridiculously.

Essentially we are being told the Banks are Irish, you’re Irish, so you’re all guilty.

A European political union would seem to many within this society to be tyrannical, undemocratic, imperialistic, and against our sovereign wishes, economic and political interests and our wish to retain neutrality in the normal event of war which often follows economic depressions. Perhaps it is time to look to other countries, most notably our Nordic neighbours Norway, Iceland and Greenland, (as well as a potentially independent Scotland), outside the immediate union with vast energy, and fisheries reserves and small populations like ours, ideal for trade and in our own case, mass food production.

A political union, particularly one which fails to address the understandable and perhaps healthily cynical Irish suspicion of external powers wishing to control our affairs, is looking increasingly incompatible with Irish economic and political interests.

Arguably, it was always incompatible with our desire to maintain political and economic sovereignty, which was once stated by a small group of brave men as ‘indefeasible’ and which has now become a supposedly dangerous and radical concept.

Apjp September 2012

Photo: EU Commission  EUFOR

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Would You Work for Abercrombie and Fitch ?
September 23, 2012

Abercrombie and Fitch (A & F), the huge American retail outlet, is to open its first Irish branch soon in Dublin on the old Bank of Ireland building in Dublin’s College Green. Already there is a huge bill board with a model up on the building, and a lot of people are eager to get their hands on the A & F gear which is proving very popular amongst Dublin’s haute couture- aware youth, eager for the latest hoodie and top. Over the years though, A & F have been embroiled in a number of storms from being hauled through the courts – from accusations that it hid back room staff who were non white to the treatment of staff in the sweat shops that manufacture their goods in the Philippines. The Irish Times published an article recently which highlighted the issues surrounding employment. It goes on..

This notion that only good-looking people need apply has done the company no favours in recent years, and its employment policies have led to a number of court cases. In 2009 a former employee of a London store took it to an employment tribunal claiming she had been forced to work in the stockroom because she didn’t match the company’s strict “look policy”, a guide to the appearance of its shop-floor staff. She was born with the lower part of her arm missing. She won the case, and A & F had to pay her £8,000.
A much more damaging action was taken against the company in the US in 2003. Several Hispanic, black and Asian employees and applicants sued the company saying they had been put into less visible backroom jobs. The company disputed the claims but settled in 2005. As part of the deal it agreed to pay more than €30 million to black and Hispanic groups across the US while admitting no wrongdoing.

 

A & F hired a diversity officer to increase its share of the workforce from 10% being minorities in 2004 to now having approx 50% of its workforce being from minorities. The issues above are not confined however to people whom may work in its branches, there have been accusations that the company’s suppliers have ill treated staff that manufacture goods for A & F. Labour Rights.org carried the news that the Alta Mode factory, where A & F clothing is made, has done its best to stifle the rights of workers who sought to form a Union. The workers at the factory were looking for better rights but Alta Mode thought differently and suspended the workers and even had the audacity to bring a case against them in what was a flagrant breach of the workers’ rights to form a union without being subject to harassment for such actions.

However all may not be lost for such a big brand as they recently bowed to pressure to stop using cotton from Afghanistan thanks to a petition by the International Labour Rights Forum. A petition calling on A & F proved successful to the point that they bowed to pressure and stopped using cotton from child labourers in Uzbekistan . They may have been a bit behind though with the times and only caught up as other companies had signed up and installed policies to deal with such issues.

While over 65 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies related to Uzbek cotton, two companies have remained silent.

One of these the site alleges was A & F until they signed up.
Next time someone goes shopping for Abercrombie and Fitch in Dublin, think of the rights that people have and where your clothing was made. Was it made ethically? Would you like to work in a company with such policies?
Ponder for a minute, would you work somewhere where the staff recruited seem to be just models?

Read the following report from an ex employee from jezebel.com

There is a “style guide” that hiring managers get to see. It contains almost no text – just a few dozen pages, each with a full-sized color photograph of different ethnicities – a male and a female for each. They are supposed to serve as examples of the kind of people you should hire. Presumably so the managers will know what good-looking minorities look like. They’re amongst the confidential files that are never meant to leave the office, but I’m surprised none have ever surfaced

In 2009 the Guardian reported on the flagship store in Saville Row in London where it seemed so out of place with all of the other shops. Benoit Denizet-Lewis who writes articles for the NYT magazine tells the Guardian that Mike Jeffries (CEO of A & F) came out with the following line when he interviewed him:

We go after the attractive, all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.

Wonder what would happen if this 23 st lump of lard walked brazenly in and demanded a job. I could include on the application “I have the body of a God”…just neglect to tell them its a body like this…

Photo:  Chinese Buddha  (Wikicommons)

fluffybiscuits 19 September 2012

Vote No To Bureaucracy and Thatcherism
May 29, 2012

The Fiscal Compact is a hastily conceived document that was agreed between a number of EU governments at a crisis meeting on 9th December, 2011 when the euro appeared on the verge of collapse.

It derives from a faulty analysis of the euro crisis and its link to an orgy of financial speculation.  It does not focus on imbalances at the heart of the euro – between a high ‘savings’ ratio in Germany and high levels of debt in the peripheral countries. Nor does it deal with the explosion in de-regulated banking. Its sole focus is rather on public spending.

Yet the rise in public spending is a consequence – not a cause of the economic crisis. Sovereign states were forced to bail out banks and this led to a rise in their borrowing costs. The Fiscal Treaty would have done nothing to stop the crisis that occurred in 2008 because Spain and Ireland were within its targets.

The core of the treaty is contained in Article 3 of the treaty which states that ‘the budgetary position of the general government shall be balanced or in surplus’. This is deemed to occur if the ‘structural deficit’ does not exceed 0.5%. The requirement for a balanced budget must be transposed into national law, and ‘preferably’ put in the constitution.

Many people instinctively support the ideal of a balanced budget. However, countries are not like individuals and there are times when a state needs to stimulate an economy through extra spending.  Those who argue this are usually influenced by the writings of John Maynard Keynes.

Under the impact of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Keynes challenged the idea that markets should be left to rectify themselves and argued instead for greater state intervention. During a recession, he pointed out, domestic demand shrinks and capitalists often refuse to invest.  The state was the only force in society that could start spending and so the old, orthodox ideas about ‘balanced budgets’ should be thrown out.

The Fiscal Treaty would make these moderate policies effectively illegal. Governments would be put into a straight jacket and be subject to greater control from an unelected EU Commission. They would be forced to stay within a 0.5% range of their structural deficit.

Yet strangely there is no agreement among even mainstream economists about how to calculate this structural deficit. The German Bundesbank states that calculation of the structural deficit is ‘relatively complex, opaque and elastic on account of the numerous discretionary modelling options’. [i] In other words, you get different results based on what model you use.

Voting Yes means ceding more control to the EU Commission to impose ‘corrective action’ on us – in the name of a mysterious economic concept upon which there is no agreement.

The Treaty therefore represents a profound attack on democracy. It gives the EU Commission more power to lay down guidelines to determine ‘‘the nature, size and the time frame of the corrective action to be undertaken.’ It forces countries to accept their recommendations for ‘structural reform’. It allows them to direct local economies through an insane combination of extreme bureaucracy and neoliberalism.

To keep our sanity, we need to Vote No.

  Kieran Allen   29. 5. 2012


[i] Quoted in P. McArdle, The Euro Crisis: The ‘Fiscal Compact’ and Fiscal Policy, Dublin Institute of International and European Affairs 2012.

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