I left this comment on the article by Una Mulally in today’s Irish Times.
This is a dog’s dinner. The author laments the lack of social and political change in Ireland, without telling us what kind of change she is talking about. She talks about a ‘period of flux’, but doesn’t say what things were in flux. She says ‘we’ shirk opportunities for change, but doesn’t say who this ‘we’ encompasses, or who it leaves out.
To add to the confusion, the author says the 2011 election was ‘the greatest opportunity for change since the foundation of the State’, but doesn’t explain how. True enough, the change of government after the election was ‘lipstick on a pig’ – but that was always the intention. Both Fine Gael and Labour committed to the full implementation of the Troika programme well in advance of the election campaign.
The author says the 2011 election was ‘the potential to reimagine’: but who was doing the re-imagining? She doesn’t have anything to say about the political limits imposed by a bailout intended to save the financial sector, nor about what this means for the democratic order that she believes to exist in Ireland. In fact, the political establishment has been committed to the interests of finance capital above the interests of the population, and has no interest in democracy.
The items she finds in the constitutional convention are mere crumbs of comfort. There is nothing in them that will alter the political landscape in any way that might endanger the drive for speculation and accumulation. Nothing to put a brake on the social and political changes that flow as a consequence of privileging the interests of capital.
You can’t have a meaningful discussion about the lack of political change in Ireland without looking at how the needs of the majority clash with the needs of the capitalist class, and hence the political consequences of this situation. But this fundamental fact -class conflict- is hidden from view, so that it appears as if the needs of Dermot Desmond and the needs of the long-term unemployed are identical. This appearance is maintained by Ireland’s ruling political parties, by its media establishment, but also by the vague cultural bric-a-brac of this article.