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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Décor en carton-pâte

by Jean-Emmanuel Ducoin

Ireland: A Mere Pasteboard Décor

Translated Saturday 27 November 2010, by Isabelle Métral

After a short span of ten years or so under the murderous and blind rule of a free-market frenzy, the homeland of rugby and stony heath has lost its legendary fighting spirit. Ireland is ill. And severely so. Hit both by a financial, and a property crisis, the “Celtic Tiger” now shows what it truly is: a pasteboard setting thanks to which a few profiteers and rapacious bankers have grown fatter. The mirage has since faded away. The GDP is spiralling down, the banking system is near suffocation, the deficit now runs at more than 30%, and unemployment is above 14%. Even emigration is once more on the rise.

« If you take the wrong hat, make sure at least that it fits you.” The old Irish proverbs have lost their time-honoured flavour...

After Greece, Ireland is thus the second euro-zone country to be forced to accept the humiliating terms set by the EU, the IMF, and the financial markets: 90 billion euro are to fund a “rescue plan” that will only spell the ruin of its economy and enforce austerity. Let’s tell the story again however.

How Ireland, with the EU’s blessing, had so far believed that a fierce and shameless social and fiscal dumping would ensure its development. How it even became – together with Spain - a model praised to the skies by free-market sycophants. Hardly a few years after the “low-cost” magic (so loudly applauded by pro-market fans of all obedience, whether Right-wingers or Social-Democrats) vanished into thin air, Ireland proves a loser on all counts. Not only have investments flown away in quest of yet more profitable conditions, but Irish people are no longer in control of their economic destiny. The EU and the IMF now have freedom of manoeuvre even as a major political crisis is looming ahead in the country. The worst is to be feared for the Irish people who must now bitterly regret having yielded to the blackmail that imposed a second vote to force acceptance of that cursed Lisbon treaty…

Europe is afraid Ireland will go bankrupt and the whole of the euro-zone will be imperilled?

But what remains true is that the fateful “Irish crisis” is in no way a strictly “Celtic problem”, being one of the effects of the structural decomposition of the European construction that has been enforced upon us: just see how fast scavengers reacted yesterday. No sooner had the logic of the rescue plan been made public, in a context of a monetary war that contributes to boost the rates at which loans can be secured to relieve the public deficits, than Moody’s rating agency immediately notified that it would lower Ireland’s sovereign rating “by several notches”…That’s the perfect capitalist steamroller all over! It’s no coincidence that the euro-zone’s hardest-hit countries are precisely those where the cost of labour is lowest, where the jobs market is the most deregulated: namely Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain to follow in the near future.

France, where the National Assembly has just passed a super-austerity budget for the year 2011, will be no exception.

It too must take the shock treatment that shatters all dreams of growth – the IMF itself is in fear of this ( and that indeed is saying a lot…) In such a context, today’s new mobilization against the pensions reform [1], and all the unprecedented initiatives that have been planned for the occasion have an unmistakably specific flavour. The present social protest movement, with its novel forms of action, is set to last, and has clearly not yet breathed its last. The seething protest, so characteristic of the French popular tradition, has entered a new phase, and draws all eyes in Europe upon it.

[1This editorial was published on November 23rd.

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