Review of Conor McCabe talk on Money


Conor McCabe delivered a talk entitled ‘Money’ hosted by Comhlámh. Conor is a research fellow, writer and educator. The talk is available to view as a video on Comhlámh’s FB page.

His talk started with a joke, but the joke was just reported as staight news. The OECD produced figures that showed that the Irish worker is currently the most productive worker that has ever existed, globally. The Irish worker in 2017 was adding €87 to the value of the economy for every hour worked. The joke is that this figure is arrived at by crude mathematics which divides the size of the Gross Domestic Product, by the number of hours worked, not taking into account our functioning as a tax haven. That’s the joke, but at a time when the nurses are on strike for fair pay it is hard to find any of this funny.

It was refreshing to have a discussion which spoke with great clarity about Capitalism, how it is currently functioning and about class. For instance, 50% of the Irish workforce is now comprised of people who earn €27K or less per annum. The Irish economy has been shaped by a compradore class, middle men or gombeens to you and me who hae shaped an moulded our state and economy. This allows for massive exploitation.

Capitalism is a system whereby you invest in water to get money back in the money form. Capitalism monetizes, and wants its return in the most liquid form. This allows for accumulation, so that we can get to a place where according to Oxfam, 50 people now own 50% of the world's wealth. Conor compared it to the blob. This beast that continues to spread and it is now moving out to try and consume and monetize other areas of life, like health and housing. It brings everything into its logic. The blob is coming.

“It devours people and spits them out” said Conor. He then went onto describe how it “just doesn’t just monetize human labour, it monetizes social value and nature aswell.”

It transforms it into money form, and then puts property rights on that money form. That then gets sucked up to the top. This system has to be resisted and opposed. Conor spoke about unity across various groups, from the left, from the trade union movement, and from civil society, community groups.

In the ancients civilisations, like Mesopatania, when a fatal epidemic would strike, ‘they were seen as “the devouring” of a god’', as James C. Scott puts it in his book Against the Grain. That word struck me last night when Conor spoke about Capitalism and what it does to people. The devouring is on-going. The blob is expanding and all in its path, people, society, nature will get destoyed. Conor spoke eloquently about the need for an organised resistance to what is going on. The objectives remain the same, but the strategies must change constantly to fight this expansion and to drive the beast back. Conor spoke about the left, the trade unions and community groups organising and working together in this struggle now. We couldn’t agree more. What else would you expect from anarchists.