Solidarity! A reply to the Irish Times

A reply I posted to the Irish Times leader column published on Friday 3rd August titled ‘Frankfurt finds a better way.

Pardon me, but what can the Irish Times possibly mean when it says that solidarity between states provides the road out of the present mess?

It seems to be saying, unless my comprehension skills have deserted me once and for all, that the strict ‘conditionality’ and supervision demanded by the ECB is some sort of expression of mutual aid based on mutual concern.

If so, it’s a very strange form of solidarity indeed: governments agreeing among themselves to dismantle welfare state provisions, drive down wages, cut benefits, subject welfare recipients to a regime of surveillance and stigmatisation, privatise public assets, attack working conditions, contine to bail out financial institutions; and for what?

Who benefits from such, er, solidarity?

As far as I can see, it sure as hell isn’t the vast majority of any of the different peoples living in Europe, who are already being told to kiss goodbye to any sort of secure and dignified existence as envisaged by the postwar settlement in Europe, since the markets demand that they live otherwise.

Unless, of course, we’re talking instead about that privileged section of society often referred to nowadays as the 1%, and which embraces as its own the likes of former Goldman Sachs executives such as Mario Draghi of the ECB, and many other policymakers at a European level who are acquainted with a revolving door between supposedly public institutions and the institutions of an increasingly parasitical and predatory financial sector.

Indeed, it does seem odd, from the old fashioned democratic point of view, don’t you think, that Draghi should be sending out signals about solidarity when only a few months back he was proclaiming in a Wall Street Journal interview about how Europe’s social model had already gone? What concept of solidarity is he talking about?

Say! Hang on a second. Do you think..nah..but then again…Irish Times, I have a question for you. This ‘solidarity between states’ thing you’re talking about. Could it be, given the stark right-wing outlook of institutions such as the ECB, and their operation in the interests of finance capital first and foremost, that it’s not the nature of the solidarity we should be worried about here, but rather the nature of the states?

 

Because, and pardon me if I’m saying something darn foolish here, but you know what members of the public can be like: if European states are being stripped their obligations to ensure the health and welfare of their citizens, as Mario Draghi claims, and at the same time formalising their obligations to ensure the health and welfare of financial institutions and to keep the markets happy, as Mario Draghi demands…do you reckon it’s because the states are no longer social or democratic?

After all, it’s not as if Mario Draghi or any of the ECB Governing Council, or Barroso at the European Commission, or Van Rompuy at the European Council, or Lagarde at the IMF, or Goldman Sachs, or ‘the markets’ were ever given a popular mandate to decide on the economic policy of member states, and yet they do, with devastating effects for the populations of those states.

You know, if I didn’t know you better, why, I’d be tempted to interpret your mention of ‘solidarity between states’ as meaning ‘obedience and acquiescence of member state national governments in implementing the policies called for by European level institutions in the service of major financial institutions, and in so doing recognising the common interest and need for solidarity among the ruling elites of each member state, faced with the looming spectre of widespread revolt and social strife. And that means you too, Fine Gael, Labour, and IBEC’.

And to tell the truth, until you set me straight on this, I’m going to be more inclined to think of the states you’re talking about -such as this one- not as guarantors of social and democratic rights, but something else…something more like an organ of repression and dispossession on behalf of the so-called 1%.

Here’s hoping for a 500-part daily feature on the matter beginning this Monday coming, assuming there aren’t any more articles to publish about how public discourse is being destroyed be rude people on the Internet. Toodle pip, Himmlische, Dein Heiligtum, and so on and so forth.

 

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