Tag Archives: EU

Ireland, refugees, and the white world’s wars

The inglorious history of the white world – Europe and its North American and Antipodean offshoots – continues to play out before our eyes with the current refugee crisis. It is portrayed as a crisis for Europe, or more specifically for the EU. In reality it is the manifestation of a series of crises for the refugees themselves, a consequence of their absolute desperation. And those crises – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Somalia and other non-white states and regions – must be laid at the door of the white world.

The refugees are being divided into worthy refugees and unworthy migrants.

Worthy refugees come from war-ravaged Syria and, more grudgingly, from war-ravaged Iraq. They flee, seeking refuge from the fear of imminent death by bombing or shooting.

Unworthy migrants come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, North Africa and other war-ravaged areas. They flee, seeking refuge from imminent death from foreign intervention and resulting civil war, or from death by starvation and disease created by those wars.

Seventy years ago, Palestine was a thriving stable modern state in which women as well as men had a stake, and in which Muslim, Christian and Jew lived in harmony. The US and Europe contrived to destroy that through mass plantation of foreigners and the imposition of an invented state, Israel, which would act as a proxy for the US and Europe in destroying that Palestinian state, using military and other oppressive means.

Fifty years ago, Afghanistan was a thriving stable modern state in which women as well as men had a stake. The US, Russia and Europe have since bombed it back to the dark ages.

Twenty years ago, Iraq was a thriving stable modern state with good standards of education, health, employment and housing, with few signs of street-level sectarianism and with women as well as men having a stake. But Saddam Hussein was a despot, the white world told us. The US and Europe have bombed it back to the dark ages.

Ten years ago, Libya was a thriving stable modern state with excellent standards of housing, education, health, employment and trade. But Gadaffi was a despot, the white world told us. The US and Europe, specifically in the case of Libya, Britain and France but with EU support, absolutely destroyed Libya, rendering it a completely unviable and very dangerous, destabilised, entity, bombed back to the dark ages.

Five years ago, Syria was a thriving stable modern state with good standards of housing, education, health and employment in which women as well as men had a stake, and in which sectarianism played little part on the streets. But Assad was a despot, the white world told us. The US and its allies in the area – Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the EU with Britain and France once more taking the lead, seized on internal unrest to destroy Syria. They, and their proxies, bombed it back to the dark ages.

The list of countries destroyed goes on. The list of bad despots is being reduced. The list of good despots remains intact.

And what of the response of Europe to the flow of refugees arising from all of that destruction?

Germany is being lauded for its generosity in taking in excess of 800,000 refugees, mainly from Syria. The German people are a generous people, as most people are, and they should be praised for their individual and collective acts of generosity in the face of such suffering.

But it is not to quibble to point out that the inflow of refugees is of great benefit to the German state and its economy. Very low birth-rates make both the state and economy potentially unviable. The arrival of a large body of well-educated and enterprising workers, well capable of supporting themselves and contributing to the German economy is a lifeline to Germany, where providing for example for future pension demands is a very serious problem without an expanding, younger, productive workforce.

The same is true across many countries of the EU, but some are complicated by a rise in xenophobia and racism whipped up by far-right parties. In the case of Britain, the ruling Conservative Party, responding to the rise of UKIP but a prisoner of its own imperialist past and present, can be lumped in with the far-right. France, led by a pseudo-socialist president, is busy re-establishing its colonial domination of swathes of Africa while the fascist-racist Front National rises closer to power.

And Ireland?

The response of the majority of Irish people has been humane and empathic. Generosity of spirit and offers of help including opening our borders to refugees flow from that.

In contrast with that the reaction, or lack of reaction, from the government is shameful. Addicted to neoliberalism, this government has studiously avoided tackling various national crises, including burgeoning homelessness, continued emigration of our young, the collapse of essential public services, the widening gap between the impoverished 20% and the wealthy, and so on.

Its reponse is to send a warship to provide humanitarian assistance, far from our shores. And that, effectively, is it.

Caught in the headlights of an election juggernaut over which the government parties have little control, and unable to read public opinion from inside the Leinster House bubble, our half-witted ministers flounder around trying to cobble a response, to no effect other than to embarrass the people of Ireland.

Public opinion needs to be expressed in louder terms. This government, representing as it does the desires and wants of the political class and its lower-order hanger-ons over the demands and needs of the mass of people, must be forced to act on behalf of the majority in this instance – the decent and empathic people of Ireland.

Open the borders. Give haven to refugees, and welcome them. Set the numerical bar high and not low – we can accommodate thousands of them. Some will eventually move home, or to other destinations. Hopefully many will stay and be part of us. They will be no burden, but a welcome addition.

And make reparation for allowing Shannon Airport to be used by US warplanes en route to bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and en route to resupplying the Israeli murder machine.

That is the blackest stain on our national character. A proper response to the present crisis will go some way to removing it.

Refusing to ever again take part in the white world’s war on other nations and regions will help with that.

Our own history tells us that is the proper course of action.

We were refugees.


Exit From EU Essential

It is long past time when Irish citizens should seriously consider the Irish State exiting the European Union, but the growing evidence of Ireland’s second or third-class status within the Union makes this much more of an imperative now. For far too long Ireland’s political class has engaged in a hard sell to have Irish citizens endorse a series of treaties that have dragged the State and its people further and further into a subservient position in the EU relative to the powerful axis of neo-imperialist countries – Germany, France and Britain.

The banking crisis and the resultant collapse of the Irish economy show that that axis – simultaneously neo-imperialist and neo-liberal – is not just prepared to countenance but insists on the enslavement of the Irish people for the purpose of paying the debts of private gamblers, principally the banks and money markets in those countries. If they are to allow for even marginal easing of the terms of what they describe as a ‘bail-out’ but what is in fact extortion, then we must surrender on the issue of our rate of corporate tax.

Ireland’s geographical position as an island separated by not one but two seas from the continent of Europe requires that the State devises methods of attracting investment into Ireland. While not defending the morality or otherwise of favouring international corporations with low tax rates, the fact that the powerful EU states insist on dismantling the limited advantage that this offers as a prerequisite for making it slightly easier for Irish citizens to refund debts that they do not own and cannot pay demonstrates the absence of fairness and parity of esteem between the powerful centre and the periphery.

But there are other permanent features of the EU’s position in the world that demand that the Irish State and its citizens examine their collective conscience about our involvement with a project that exploits, dominates, enslaves, manipulates and wages war directly or by proxy on less powerful regions, nations and people of the world.

It is unethical to engage in the international arms trade, but that is what European countries do in a highly aggressive and corrupt way and most often to vicious regimes who pile the cost of the weapons on to  national debt while exploiting the treasuries of their countries for personal profit and depositing the proceeds in secret accounts with European banks. It was illuminating and disgusting to see the British prime minister, David Cameron, arrive in Egypt while the people’s revolution was still active with a posse of some of the most notorious British weapons manufacturers and dealers to discuss arms deals with the military regime that controls that country.

These same European countries systematically exploit, with the client governments complicity, the resources of the client states, importing their raw materials to Europe where great value is added through manufacturing and sales. The impoverished people of the third World who attempt to follow the jobs into Europe are harassed, exploited, criminalised and very often expelled. Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment is reaching fever pitch in many of the so-called ‘enlightened democracies’ in Europe, and is facilitated if not encouraged by the governments of those democracies through thinly veiled incitement and the enacting of very repressive laws aimed at those immigrant communities.

EU countries are heavily involved in the illegal and brutal wars being waged against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, wars which would not have begun and could not be sustained had those countries not joined the ‘coalition of the willing’. The EU is also actively complicit in the slow genocide of the Palestinian people in not only failing to exert strong pressure on Israel and the US to end their criminal oppression of an innocent indigenous people, but also in exploiting all trade possibilities with Israel in both directions. Not content with that, the EU is currently absorbing Israel into the European Union (well documented by David Cronin in his book “Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation”).

The leaders of the neo-imperialist states which control the European Union are not people that any reasonably moral person would want to associate with. The scale of destruction that these leaders wreak on the world and its people is massive, and criminal. It is in effect no different from the havoc their ancestors created in the Americas, Africa, and the Middle and Far East. Their record is the direct opposite of the record of the Irish people who, throughout history, have never sought to dominate or oppress other nations, but who have been the subject of colonisation and genocidal policies inflicted by one part of the axis of European neo-imperialism, Britain.

Given the current banking and fiscal crisis that Ireland is going through which will cause massive hardship on the Irish people, the prospect of disengaging with the EU and engaging with the 118 countries of the non-aligned movement is just a different challenge, but a far more rewarding one if planned for and handled correctly.

Not only is there a bright future for the Irish economy in a wider world, there is the opportunity for the Irish State to re-establish itself as a neutral peace-loving defender of human rights in the world. That is a prize worth working for. The debate on our future is urgent and must begin.

For more on this read a previous post – https://theirishrepublic.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/atlantean-irish-in-the-wider-world/

The Gobbledeegook of Ireland Inc.

Ireland Inc. – whatever that is – is bankrupt, we are told. Insolvent, broke, bust, beggared. Our spending is way beyond our means, out of control, disconnected from the ‘real’ world. With deeply worried looks they ask if we can not see that our GDP doesn’t match our public spending, or is it GNP, whatever that or the other one is. We need, they say, to get to grips with the macro numbers, or maybe it is the micro numbers.

We’d need to be economists to understand the gobbledeegook. But we have enough of them already, too many, and most of them played their part in getting us into the trouble we are in. The good ones were dismissed as cranks, or traitors, advised to go and commit suicide by our then Taoiseach, Bertie ‘Cornerboy’ Ahern. While many ordinary citizens knew we were in some sort of bubble, the favoured economists and the cheer-leading media commentators protested otherwise. “It’ll be fine”, they said, “sure we’ll have a soft landing”. Turns out that soft landing was more like a plane plummeting down, out of control, onto concrete.

What is a country worth? Measured in a way that is different from the IMF’s way, what might Ireland be worth? If a qualified valuer created an inventory of assets, what value might those amount to? How many multiples of our deficit, or GNP/GDP, or total international debts would that be?

We have 70,000 sq. kilometres of land, and 27,847 sq. kilometres of territorial fishery waters. We have proven gas and oil reserves of at least €500 billion in value, with much more to discover. We have agriculture and food manufacturing, tourism, high-end manufacturing and service industries and a valuable arts ‘industry’. We have many thousands of kilometres of road, and thousands of kilometres of railways and all that goes with that. We have over 4,000 schools and 134 hospitals, and two million houses and apartments. We have electricity generation and a grid, and a natural gas grid too. We have towns and cities, airports and ports, bridges and tunnels. This list could go on and on. We can get the drift. We paid for all of that, with blood and money. It has value, and much of it is owned by the state – in other words owned ultimately by the citizens.

But most of all, we have the people of Ireland, the greatest resource, much of it untapped. In 2004, while he was Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell said that ‘a dynamic liberal economy like ours demands flexibility and inequality in some respects to function’! Note the use of the word ‘demands’, particularly as used in conjunction with the word ‘inequality’,  a foretaste of the line taken by the EU, ECB, IMF and Goldman Sachs.

Since independence we have maintained, and still do to an ever-increasing extent, a significant cohort of our people including children in poverty and deprivation. Their use is as a negative force to depress pay demands, thereby increasing ‘competitiveness’ and inflating profits. Urged on by brutish neoliberals like Michael McDowell we turned and still turn our own fellow citizens into unwilling recipients of social ‘welfare’ by depriving them of the educational and training resources necessary to lift them out of poverty and to allow them forge a productive life for their own benefit, and society’s. Not content with forcing a life of dependency on them, our leaders accede with alacrity to the diktats of the EU/IMF/ECB Troika that social welfare rates be slashed and the low-paid be brought into an ever-widening tax net. While that is done, we allow a self-appointed ‘elite’ to maintain and enhance, on the backs of the poor and the low-paid, a life of power, privilege and wealth.

The formula for determining the liquidity or insolvency of any country is, on the face of it, a smoke and mirrors formula created by the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, the OECD and the United Nations. It pays no attention, it seems, to the value of long-term durable assets including natural resources, the built environment and communications infrastructure, or the value of people and what they can do. It appears to be nothing other than a contrived tyranny inflicted on non-‘elite’ countries by those who control ‘elite’ international bodies with the end result of maintaining empires and money markets.

We need to cut through the gobbledeegook and find an exit strategy that we can live with. It is time to turf out the amateur ‘smoke and mirrors’ men we put in charge of the ship of state or, to use their gobbledeegook, ‘Ireland Inc.’.

Election Mania: notes from the asylum 6

As the last counts continue in the General Election, it is a black mark against the mainstream media in Ireland that across the board it is assiduously pushing the Fine Gael-Labour coalition as the only option. This  illustrates a deeply entrenched, internalised, unethical and unprofessional approach on the part of ‘professional’ journalists.

The fact is that there are at least four options available. Fine Gael can form a coalition government with Labour, or with independents, or with Fianna Fail, or can form a minority government with the agreed support of Fianna Fail and like-minded independents. If stability is a key requirement, then the coalition of two parties which share the same broad ideology is available, against the potential instability of a coalition of a left-wing party, which Labour claims to be, and a right-wing party which Fine Gael is.

There is anecdotal evidence of Labour Party workers at a Dublin count centre supporting the idea that Labour would lead the opposition and work toward leading a government at the next opportunity. A strong statement from Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of the Unite trade union, echoes this line, with sound reasoning.

Should Labour insist that it will lead the opposition, that would force Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to hold talks, and to find the basis of agreement on which a stable government could be formed. The fact is that about 55% of voters gave their first preference to right-wing parties and independents.That says something, but this fact does not register as being of any consequence with the media.

Should Fine Gael and Fianna Fail not reach agreement then another General Election would be required if Labour held firm and explained the dichotomy of Labour being required to provide stable government, but Fine Gael and Fianna Fail not being so required. In those circumstances, Fine Gael would not wish to take the chance of going to the country again, and so a Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition of one sort or the other would have to be a runner.

Regarding international perception and confidence, neither the EU or the IMF, or the international bond market could lack confidence in such an arrangement – to adopt any other position would lack any logic.

It is difficult to imagine, given the ‘shapes’ that its spokespeople are throwing, that the Labour leadership will respect the mandate that the party and other left-wing parties and independents have been given to create real change in politics in the manner that Unite leader Jimmy Kelly describes.

Whichever way it goes with respect to forming a government, there is one  project that must be undertaken – it is vital that a proper examination of the deeply anti-democratic nature of media coverage across the printed press and broadcast media takes place, post-election, and that the findings are acted on. There is work here for academics, and we have no shortage of qualified people to do that work.

If a media hegemony was identified in any country outside Ireland, the Irish media would react indignantly. The parable of the Mote and the Beam comes to mind, a parable that has to do with hypocrisy and censoriousness. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Atlantean Irish in the Wider World

Ireland is virtually alone in the EU, with the exception of the Baltic States and Luxembourg, in not having an imperialist past, but rather, like the Baltic States, having experienced centuries of domination by an imperialist neighbour.

Since the first moves in the 1960s to apply for membership of what was then the European Economic Community, there has always been principled opposition in Ireland to immersing the nation in what was seen as a pan-European imperialist project and aligning itself with those countries which have wreaked a trail of destruction on nations and peoples around the world. It was believed by many opponents of the proposed Irish membership of the EEC that our proper place in the world was as part of that global collective of those victims of European imperialism known as the non-aligned movement.

The non-aligned movement is an organisation of 118 member states, and 18 states with ‘observer’ status. It was created as a ‘third way’, an alternative to alignment with either the West or the Soviet Union in that power-play that was the ‘Cold War’. It is largely made up of nations and peoples that are former colonies of European imperialist nations.

There is a set of requirements for membership of the organisation, which are:

  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the movements for national independence.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations.

‘The purpose of the organisation as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.” (Source – Wikipedia)

Contained in that Declaration are many of the issues that now confront Ireland, and which were identified by opponents to EEC membership from the 1960s on, but rubbished by the proponents of membership. Joining the non-aligned movement would see Ireland reclaim its independence and sovereignty, including its fiscal sovereignty with the reintroduction of its own currency and the consequent power to revalue that currency when conditions demanded that should be done in the interest of the nation – the nation being all of the people and not a wealthy minority.

What of the other members of the non-aligned movement and how would Ireland sit among them? It is a simple task to identify regimes with which we would have serious issues, but the same is the case with some member states of the EU. On the other side, there are very many members of the NAM that share significant elements of history with us (domination and colonialism by European states, and the difficulties of working through the post-colonial period). Many of the member states have had their borders artificially constructed or manipulated by the imperialists, and we share that experience. Like them, we have experienced the deliberate colonialist policies of destruction of our language and culture and the fostering of sectarian divisions with all of the long-term problems that have arisen as a result.

And what of the argument that by leaving the EU we would materially damage Ireland’s economy and therefore its capacity to maintain its independence? The quick answer to that is evidenced by the assault on our fiscal independence, and therefore our sovereignty, by the larger member states of the EU to protect their own banks, bond holders, etc. But the positive answer is to look at the trading opportunities – both material and intellectual – that would be available in a body of nations that not only includes super-economies such as India, China, Brazil, but also includes over half of the world’s population, about 80% of the world’s oil resources, and the vast bulk and variety of other precious metals and minerals – on which the EU is almost totally dependent.

Other beneficial considerations of our re-alignment would include the proper control and management of our very valuable fisheries, and of our (to be nationalised) oil and gas resources through a fair partnership with other non-aligned nations who have the technical expertise and equipment available. The opening up of global markets for value-added agricultural produce in a world which is experiencing food shortages is another enormous potential benefit.

Despite the damage done to Ireland which has come to a climax with the EU-IMF intervention in Black November 2010, there is little doubt that we are capable of successfully taking a different fork in the road that is the nation’s journey. There is much to gain from this new approach – not just in terms of independence and sovereignty and pride, or in terms of our economy and society, but more crucially there is a moral component to it in terms of our attitude to war and injustice and exploitation – all hallmarks of European and US policy towards the rest of the non-NATO world.

We are not Europeans as we have allowed  ourselves to be misled into thinking. As Bob Quinn suggests, we are the Atlantean Irish, with our gaze directed not just at Europe, but at the world at large. We have the twenty-twenty vision of a people at the periphery, once we remove the EU blindfold. Why would we limit the scope of our ambitions by aligning ourselves with imperialists with so much blood on their hands, and an ambition to expand their activities, when we can take our place among the non-aligned nations of the world as equals – nations who, unlike Europe and the US, and even ourselves, hold the Irish in some considerable regard.

It is time to open a real debate on our future, to stop limiting ourselves by surrendering to the demands of a union of unequal states, but instead to open our minds to the possibility that we can change ourselves and the world for the better. Time, as James Connolly wished, to build a sovereign republic that will act as a beacon of hope to the oppressed people of the world. We are most certainly capable of doing that.

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