It’s a commonplace among reactionaries and conservatives of different stripes to make the claim that we live in a ‘sick’ society.
It also happens, in the case of the Republic of Ireland, to be objectively true, within the framework imposed by the EU-IMF troika.
Maybe you’re aware of the medico-biological language that justifies a lot of economic policies: ‘we don’t want to kill the patient’; ‘we need to front-load the treatment’; the ‘lifeblood’ of economic activity, and so on and so forth.
If your physician told you, sternly looking up at your x-ray, that there appeared to be a liquidity trap appearing on your lung, you might get worried. But the language of medicine is habitually deployed in economic policy discourse as a means of lending both an air of scientificity and an air of moral righteousness to the endeavours of the economist.
I am not a moralist, Peter Bacon the conceptual artist behind NAMA once claimed on RTE TV. But economic decisions have moral consequences.
Well, they do, that is, when, as a human being possessed of powers of empathy and compassion, you are able to perceive them.
Psychopaths and automatons are not able to evaluate moral consequences, or even perceive them as such. But psychopaths may use moral language as a manipulative strategy. And automatons may use it because they have no powers of questioning one way or the other. They just do it because that is what they do.
Are the bureaucrats and banking lobby servants that comprise the EU-IMF troika psychopaths or automatons? Or are they just sick? Consider the following paragraph:
Programme implementation remains strong. The front-loaded fiscal consolidation is on track, with the 2011 deficit significantly below the programme targets. The Irish authorities have continued to advance wide-ranging reforms to restore the health of the financial system so it can support Ireland’s recovery. Reforms to enhance competitiveness and support growth and job creation are moving forward.
In other words, we have made cuts to the health system. At the same time we have ploughed massive sums of public money into the financial system. People will be killed so that the financial system will prosper.
Or, people of Ireland must be killed so Ireland can recover, because Ireland is sick.
Or, people of Ireland are parasites on Ireland.
Or, Ireland is its banks.
I came across a short piece from Juan Carlos Monedero the other day where he used the word ‘asesinato’ (murder) in a way that was initially jarring to me because we tend to think of murder in terms of an established legal framework.
But what if that legal framework is the primary instrument used to kill people deliberately? Is that not murder too?
And can you not murder –and be an accessory to murder- with words too? By slashing people’s lives to bits whilst hiding behind a figurative surgeon’s mask and talking about State police forces, prisons and bureaucracies of harassment –the main tools for implementing your desired course of action- as though they were your trusty scalpel for healing?
The other day I read a report on health service cuts in the Irish Times. It started like this.
UP TO 600 public nursing home beds are to close, more acute hospital beds will shut and there will be cuts to community, mental health and disability services under the Health Service Executive’s service plan for the year, which was published yesterday.
The headline above read:
It’s not the frail elderly residents of public nursing homes in need of care that will be hit; it’s the service. It is not people with mental health problems who will be it; it’s the service. It’s not people with disabilities that will be hit; it’s their service. (Though if nurses called a stoppage, you can be damn sure the newspaper would report that the patients had been hit)
The people will escape intact.
Until the troika says we have to kill them.
Here is a translation:
And one of these days we are going to add the murders of people who die 15 years before their time because during their lives they had neither stable job nor social security nor decent housing; and we are going to add the murders of people who end it all by their own hand because the banks tell them that they are economically unviable and the social services have been dismantled in order to keep enriching insatiable banks; and we are going to add the living deaths of people whose hopes have been stolen from them because they have not been allowed to study or make plans for their future; and we are going to add the murders of children who have not been able to develop because there was not enough food in the home to foster their dreams and feed their games; and we are going to add the murders of people who have died in dead end jobs, with no job security, ordered around by avaricious bosses or crazed managers; and we are going to add the murders of women who have lost their lives because the system did not allow them space to be anything but submissive, prostitutes or weak and could find no eyes to rely on when they were falling, and we are going to add the murders of people who could not breathe the dirty air of our cities, drink the contaminated water of so many places, eat the scarce and rotten food left behind by market traders; and we are going to add the murders of people killed by bullets, missiles, bombs and gases sold by arms traffickers and war profiteers. Then, with so many deaths on our conscience, our mouths will be filled with hatred, and our lungs with earth and our hands with justice, and we are going to get even more angry when they say to us that we are the ones sowing class struggle. And then they will find neither forest nor sea deep enough nor mountains high enough to hide themselves away and escape from so much rage that they have made us build up and so much humanity they have robbed from us.