Poll supporting IMF/ECB austerity deal shows need for left to offer alternative vision


An opinion poll in todays' Irish Examiner newspaper shows the depth of resignation and pessimism that has engulfed a large section of the population.  The Red C poll found "almost half the country believes Ireland should continue complying with the terms and conditions of the EU/IMF bailout, which is one year old today. A smaller but still sizeable number are against compliance, believing the bailout agreement represents a bad deal".  48% of those polled favoured continuing on the current path; 33% opposed, even though some 45% think the new government is doing a bad job of managing the economy.

Why is this we may ask, after all the current effort to comply with the ECB austerity package is obviously having an extremely negative effect on most peoples' standard of living, forcing tens of thousands onto the dole and thousands more to emigrate. The economy is stagant at best and declining rapidly at worst. The fact is of course that there has been a constant onslaught from the capitalist and state media in support of austerity, wage cuts and an accompanying serious efforts to divide and conquer opposition by the workers movement , eg the whole public versus private sector workers nonsense and an energetic dismissing of alternative views and opinions. Not only that but the Trade Union leadership has  actively worked against mobilising opposition.

But this is not the full story, the left has been poor enough in articulating an alternative approach, very often the leftwing voices given access to the media espouse reformist or nationalist solutions to the current crisis, the danger in this approach is that you are immediately positioning yourself on the ground occupied by the enemy, their system, their rules and all the assumptions that underly that. Invariably when some left commentator or TD articulates an alternative, the question of where will the money come from? What will the markets say? Who will loan 'us' money etc? arise.

We live in an era where capitalism is at it's most developed and integrated internationally. No solution that is predicated on some nationalist, social democratic or  other reformist approach seems realistic to people. The solutions we must surely articulate are of a revolutionary, internationalist nature. If capitalism, a system prone to constant crises, can only survive by ruthless austerity and all the hardship that that entails, then why not say that and say the alternative is socialism built internationally from the bottom up. Why not articulate a vision of an alternative society and the abolition of capitalism rather than some sort of compromise  with it?

Of course that alone would not be the magic wand to move peoples conciousness, that will take a good deal of struggle, empowerment and confidence building.  The left needs to articulate a vision of a new society now more than ever to give people a vision worth fighting for.

WORDS: James McBarron