Climate change has reached a point where scientists are now saying that direct actions against resource extraction is the only strategy likely to prevent ecological collapse and ensure our environment’s survival. This panel considered what needs to be done and who is going to do it.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼“Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, except in being lazy.”
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Over all the forms of oppression and exploitation we face today, debt is cast like a shadow. In “Capital’s Shadow”, Paul Bowman analyses left wing theorisations of debt and concludes that there is a lack in their understanding of “the real nature of money” and poses the need for a “new research project that analyses not only value, but value at risk over time, and through that the role of credit, risk and the world market in the current global regime of accumulation.”
Sometimes you can walk around this city and feel like you are the last sane person left on the island. On the front page of every single newspaper the spin doctors have gone into their highest setting possible with the great news that we’ve buried the rotten corpse of Anglo Irish bank which had been stinking up the whole economy for years now. We’d cut ourselves away from this horrible thing, we no longer had to pay out this awful promissory note for a staggering amount of €3.1 billion every year. We were now going to just liquidate the rottenest bank of all time, transfer it over to the men in black (NAMA) and the plan then was to pay interest only on this astronomical debt (€40 Billion) until 2038.
Paul Bowman gives a 40 minute presentation on the Euro as a moment of the internationalisation of capital and looks for a way of dealing with the crisis that goes beyond the alternative models of capital being argued for by the left. If the height of a crisis is not the moment to raise a discussion of an anti-capitalist alternative then when is? Beyond this he also warns against the stagest approach much of the left has adopted where the economic crisis is to be addressed first by a demand for growth and the environmental crisis ignored till later.
On the 31st May, the Irish people will be asked to vote in a referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, commonly known as the Fiscal Compact Treaty. The YES side in the campaign argue that this is necessary in order to maintain stability across the EU, and the NO side argue that this treaty represents an enshrinement and continuation of the austerity we have faced since 2008. However, both sides, either through ignorance, cynicism or malice, portray the limitations of people's agency and power as the ticking of a box on a piece of paper.
As the flames from the latest round of rioting in Greece die down, the incapacity of the mainstream media to tell the story of the current Eurozone crisis leaves us as much in the dark as before the Molotov’s lit up the nightly news.
Something entirely unexpected has happened in Ireland - history has gone into reverse. While North Africa, Egypt and the Middle East are struggling to shake of the shackles of neo-colonial dictatorships, Ireland after the Celtic tiger finds itself back in a situation of direct rule. This time not from London, but from the head quarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and the European Commission in Brussels. A state which it now shares with it’s fellow PIGs, Portugal and Greece. For most of the last 60 years we have been told that liberal history went in one direction, from dictatorship and colonial rule to liberal democracy. This picture no longer fits the new status of the PIGs within the European project.
At the same time that we are witnessing a wave of popular protest in North Africa and the Middle East against aged and corrupt neo-colonial dictatorships, in the heart of Europe we are witnessing something unprecedented and absolutely extraordinary.
History appears to moving in the ‘wrong direction’ in the so-called peripheral countries of the Eurozone.
As the scale of the debts loaded onto the Irish people became clear, the calls for defaulting became louder. The moral argument for default is certainly strong: why should Irish workers pay for the poor decisions of Irish and European capitalists? But justified though it may be, would defaulting cause more pain than gain?