Thursday, December 2, 2010

Resistance Beyond Borders: Irish Lessons and International Workers’ Solidarity

The news of the draconian measures that have been inflicted on the people of Ireland so that the banks can be repaid brings into sharp focus again the turning point in the international capitalist system. From the streets of Ireland there are now discussions of the need for a system change. From the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times we are confronted with headlines that cry ‘Banks’ exposure stirs EU contagion worries’. We are then told that according to the figures of the Bank for International Settlements, ‘European Banks were sitting on more than 650 billion Euros exposure to Ireland as of March 31. The UK banks are the international lenders with the most at stake, the banks had exposure of about $222 b to a variety of Irish institutions.’ One of the burning questions for all of humanity is whether the survival and health of the banks and the financial services industry are more important than the health and livelihoods of human beings. It has been revealed that the government of Ireland will have to raid its national pension fund and other cash reserves for €17.5 billion as a condition to bail out the banks. This structural adjustment package – which Africa, Latin America and the entire Third World have seen for the past 30 years – includes steep tax increases and sharp cut backs in the programmes for the working poor. According to the New York Times:

‘The austerity plan calls for cuts of nearly 15 percent in Ireland’s social welfare budget … .More