Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our country is at a crossroads

Our country is at a crossroads

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

25 May 2012

Our country is at a crossroads. Do we support the further diminution of our political and economic sovereignty? Do we surrender ourselves, and future generations, to control by the Board of Governors of the “Stability Fund,” giving priority to the interests of German and French bankers above our children, our communities, and our country?
     The current socialised corporate debt and its repayment are unbearable and unsustainable. The current bail-out is unsustainable, so a second bail-out is beyond what our people can afford. We are already in debt servitude, and to add more debt is simply not an option for the people. We are paying a heavy price to service this corporate debt, in cuts in health, education, community services, in mass unemployment, increased charges, taxes, and the mass emigration of our youth and skilled workers.
     Big business corporations and finance houses, particularly in Germany and France, are taking the opportunity presented by the deepening crisis for a generalised offensive against workers.
     Workers need to be aware that when governments throughout the European Union and spokespersons for the EU Commission talk about “creating the conditions for growth” through making the EU “more competitive,” this is about undermining workers’ rights, terms, and conditions. These are the essential elements of their strategy not only within the EU but also in Britain and the United States.
     Defeating this treaty will strengthen the hands of the working class to resist throughout Europe.
     In Germany, 50 per cent of the work force are now contract workers. This is what European big business, and German monopolies in particular, wish to impose throughout the the European Union.
     While much misguided hope was placed in Hollande¡ªcarried into government, as he was, on the back of a popular rejection of austerity¡ªhe has already backtracked and has accommodated himself to the central thrust of these two treaties.

The Labour Party
This is equally true of the Irish Labour Party, and some leading elements of the ICTU, who are attempting to win support for this permanent austerity treaty with a vague projection of a “growth pact” some time in the future. This is more of their bankrupt politics and an effort to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
     It is an illusion to believe that the EU is open to change in a progressive direction. This treaty, like previous treaties, is designed to make its policies irreversible, as Angela Merkel herself has stated. It is another step in the direction of fiscal union, but fiscal union controlled by bankers. Some proposals, such as the establishing of eurobonds, would accelerate this trend.
     This is the background of the new treaties that the EU elites are now pushing through.

Austerity is working!
What is abundantly clear is that austerity is working, as designed and planned from the very beginning. It was the strategy of the ruling forces in the member-states, the EU institutions and their big-business interests to make workers pay for the crisis of the system.
     This is also happening in Ireland, as recent statistics show. The top 10 per cent have seen their wealth increase by 8 per cent, while the poorest 10 per cent have seen their wages and living standards cut or dropping by 25 per cent.

The transfer of wealth from the people to the elites
What is under way is a massive transfer of wealth upwards, from the people to the elites here in Ireland and to finance capital and big corporations throughout the European Union.
     This is precisely what the policy of austerity was designed to do. It is not the wrong medicine, as some people believe, but is in fact the elite’s response to the deep and chronic contradictions at the heart of the system itself.
     If we vote Yes to this treaty, and ratify the ESM Treaty, we will have to make further budgetary adjustments¡ªdeeper cuts. It will also be interpreted by this Government as a vote in favour of their economic and social strategy.

The debt trap and the transfer of wealth
The Permanent Austerity Treaty will enshrine in law and make binding the debt repayments. The essence of this treaty is making the repayment of the debt and the servicing of the debt the main priority of government policy, not alone in Ireland but throughout the EU, in particular in the heavily indebted peripheral countries, locking them into a debt trap, with no way out.
     Every year this state will spend €14 billion to service the socialised corporate debt. This debt and its servicing are the primary objectives that Merkel and Sarkozy wanted to embody in these two treaties.
     Servicing this corporate debt becomes the primary function of governments. They must give priority to debt repayment above all other economic and social priorities, by making it a constitutional or legal imperative.
     The Irish Government will, in effect, become gatekeepers for the interests of the EU, regardless of the cost to our people. And they are happy to perform this role.

Saving the euro by sacrificing the people
Today, each citizen of this state now owes €41,000¡ªa debt that was not and is not theirs, a debt imposed upon them by the European Union and European Central Bank. Their priority was to save the euro, and the German and French banking system, at the expense of working people.
     Membership of the euro is placing great strains on the Irish economy and is taking a very heavy toll on our people. The single currency was designed to suit the needs of Germany and not the smaller states. In effect, the peoples of the periphery are contributing to the bloated profits of the German monopolies. It is estimated that the euro has given Germany a 40 per cent advantage over its competitors.

National democracy and sovereignty
The Irish establishment¡ªgatekeepers for the interests of big business, particularly German¡ªclaim that voting Yes is a necessary step towards “regaining our sovereignty” and control over economic policy in the near future. This is more of the fantasy world in which they exist.
     The Fiscal Stability Treaty cannot be separated from the European Stability Mechanism Treaty, which this Government is attempting to slip through the Dáil, unnoticed by the Irish people. The two combined would contribute to the further ceding of economic and fiscal powers to the centre.
     The interests of the international financial and banking corporations are placed above the interests of the people on a global scale.
     Sovereign governments are facilitating this and reneging on their democratic responsibilities to their citizens.
     Democracy is being overturned and the people marginalised.
     Rejecting the treaty and repudiating the debt must be followed by the exercise of democratic and sovereign power by the Government to control capital, in particular finance capital and the banks.

The European Stability Mechanism
These two treaties, along with previous measures, strengthen the surveillance and control by EU bodies over national governments. The ESM would establish a governing structure that would be above the law, beyond legal control and, most importantly, beyond democratic accountability.
     It would mean virtually the end of budgetary independence for this state, as budgets would be subject to monitoring by the other states and by the Board of Governors of the Stability Fund.
     This would result in weakened, dependent states on the periphery, protectorates of the central powers, with a permanent reservoir of cheap labour and with democracy and economic policies skewed to favour the big monopolies.
     This state would have to borrow and hand over €11.1 billion as its contribution to this “bail-out fund,” piling further debt upon the people. The Board of Governors could demand further funding, and states would have seven days to hand it over.
     The priority is now debt servicing, handing further powers to an unaccountable body, the Board of the ESM. Their responsibility will be to protect the interests of finance capital and the big monopolies.
     The combination of these two treaties, coupled with the previous treaties, would further weaken what is left of the Irish state’s political independence and sovereignty.

Democracy and sovereignty are not bargaining-chips
National democracy and sovereignty are not bargaining-chips but are the essential tools required if we are to create employment and end the scourge of mass emigration.
     Workers throughout the European Union are tired of the endless cuts and austerity. This is a people-led resistance.
     Popular resistance led by workers is gaining strength across Europe, and a No vote in Ireland can only strengthen it.

The need for a change of direction
There are no solutions that monopoly capitalism can bring forward that will be in the interests of the people. What is beyond doubt is that this crisis is deepening, while the political establishment, the agents of big business and finance houses, will continue to make the people pay for this crisis of their system.
     They wish to impose permanent, open-ended austerity, with the promise of a better tomorrow. What in fact this would mean is the maintenance of the existing unequal and unjust societies. Their demand for sacrifices is to keep the interests of the ruling elites intact.
     It would be better to change direction, and whatever difficulties our people may face we can face in a united, organised way, the outcome of which will be a just, economically and environmentally sustainable society¡ªan Ireland based on equality, active participation, and control by working people over all political, economic and cultural areas of our lives.

A way out of the crisis: Time for a new direction
• Repudiation of the corporate-imposed debt
• Complete democratic control of all natural resources
• The establishment of control over capital
• The establishment of a state development bank
• Instituting a fairer and more equitable taxation system, to make the rich pay
• Preparing the procedures for leaving the euro zone
• No privatisation of public companies or public services.

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