2013 has started with the government and the capitalist media going on a propaganda offensive to give the impression that there is a real recovery in the Irish economy.
The government is cynically trying to give the impression that there is now light at the end of the tunnel after five years of an economic crisis that has produced mass unemployment, billions in austerity and mass emigration.
This they hope will make austerity measures introduced in the last budget, such as cuts to the carers allowance and the new property tax more palatable to ordinary working class people. Of course there is nothing new in such arguments. In December 2009 then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told the Dail when introducing the budget that Ireland had “turned a corner”. A year later Ireland was forced to get a “bailout” from the Troika.
Internationally TIME magazine in October had a picture of Enda Kenny on its front cover with the title “The Celtic Comeback”. Kenny was also awarded “European of the year” at the beginning of November by the German Magazine Publishers Group.
The capitalist establishment internationally is trying to back the argument that by being the “poster child of austerity” Ireland is emerging from one of the worst recessions in the history of the state. This they hope will reinforce the argument for workers in Europe to take the tough medicine of austerity in order to cure their respective economies of economic malaise.
Yet all the spin and propaganda cannot hide the reality on the ground in Ireland for working and increasingly many middle class people. Recently the Irish Independent reported that emigration has reached levels not seen since the famine with 200 people leaving the country each day.
This scale of mass emigration is being fuelled by mass unemployment now standing at 14.6 % over all and 29.7% amongst young people. This combined with the “strike of capital” by Irish big business, (investment now stands at 70% less than what it was in 2007 in nominal terms) illustrate that a capitalist system driven by the need for short term profit is incapable of using the resources of society in a productive manner to achieve real economic growth.
Another example of the harsh reality facing working class people is illustrated by the fact that 9% of families are now using money lenders as a means to survive, and 600,000 adults have no money left after they pay their basic bills.
Some ordinary people will hope against hope that recovery is on the agenda. Unfortunately the only way to end the hardship faced by the majority of society is to struggle against austerity and build a real socialist alternative.