August 4, 2010

We're the losers in silent takeover of democracy

Posted in Irish Independent · 118 comments ·
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On January 7 1961, Dwight Eisenhower, then the outgoing US President and former General of the US Army — a military man to his toes — made an extraordinary reference to the threat that the US military posed to American society and its economy.

In his final speech as President — one made at the height of the Cold War — Eisenhower referred to the potential threat of the “military industrial complex”. He described an iron triangle of interests involving the defence industry, the military itself and the State Department.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

“We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

What scared Eisenhower was the sense that the military industry had become so big that it would excessively bias government policy with imagined threats from the Soviets in order to gain more and more power in Washington. As a result, the democratic government would become subservient to the military-industrial complex and the citizens would suffer. He envisaged a future where the government would no longer represent the people but represent itself and the vested interests which propped it up. He worried that the military-industrial complex would get so big it would become almost impossible to dismantle.

He was also concerned about a mindset that was coming to dominate government thinking, where the interests of the military-industrial complex and the interests of the US were seen as one and the same thing. Eisenhower was as much concerned about dismantling this mindset in government as he was about dismantling the military-industrial complex itself.

The US is not the only country whose very democratic credentials are being threatened by the governing mindset; we, the citizens of Ireland, are similarly threatened.

In Ireland we have a governing mindset which, while not a military-industrial complex, is a politico-mandarin complex. Because the State in Ireland is by far the biggest single buyer of services in the country, it is enormously powerful and its contracts are enormously profitable for the companies doing business with it. It becomes extremely difficult, therefore, to know where the interest of the State ends and where the interest of the citizens begins. The mandarins who run the State like it like that.

This confusion allows the survival instincts of the State and the state apparatus and the political instincts of the elected politicians to merge together to the detriment of the average citizen.

Our form of ‘spectator democracy’ also facilitates this silent takeover. By spectator democracy, I mean the ‘beauty contest’ called a national election held every four of five years. We listen to various promises and rhetoric and then give a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ to whichever takes our fancy.

But in a crisis, when the politicians and mandarins have proved themselves to be so inept, the threat of the politico-mandarin complex to the welfare of the citizen becomes enormous.
If all the advice and the policy reaction are being taken by individuals who are inside the system, then protecting the system dominates the thinking. This process is so invidious that our poor politicians end up talking gibberish because they really have no idea who or what they stand for — the citizens who elect them of the State that employs them.

An example of this was a few years back when I spoke to one of our most senior politicians. I asked him what he stood for, as I was a bit perplexed about the inconsistency of policy and his ability to say anything to anyone that he thought they wanted to hear. He responded rather grandly that he stood for Ireland being “open for business” and then he went on a prepared warble about international investors, confidence and the credibility of the State.

This attitude encapsulates our politico-mandarin mentality. The politico-mandarin axis doesn’t seem to understand that being open for business, like charity, starts at home.

The recovery, if it ever comes, will come from local businesses employing one or two extra staff because they are selling one or two extra things.

Furthermore, the rather glorious concept of the ‘credibility of the State’ comes because of the credibility of small business.

Consider the issue of rates to small businesses. If you go around the country and ask small businesses what is killing them, many will respond immediately: rates. Rates are supposed to be calculated on the basis of commercial property values. In 2007, local government income from commercial rates was €1,244m. Despite the collapse in property prices (especially commercial property), the Budget for 2010 projects income from commercial rates to be €1,359m, an increase of 9pc, when across the same period commercial property values have dropped nearly 60pc.

So the politico-mandarin complex, in order to preserve itself, is asking small businesses to pay more even when the value of commercial property has collapsed.

So local government funding has fallen because of the recession and the politico-mandarin complex is trying to make up the shortfall by hiking rates, which is causing businesses to suffer most.So think about it, the State mindset has its sights set on a budget deficit number, which it thinks will deliver national credibility to investors who want to take a punt on our bond market. But in order to achieve this number, it is maintaining the size of the politico-mandarin complex and taxing the very revenue generators and employers who are supposed to drag us out of the recession. But these taxes and rates mean that small businesses will not expand and will probably go to the wall.

So being ‘open for business’ internationally actually means being ‘closed for business’ locally!
This glaring inconsistency results from the politico-mandarin complex, which refuses to dismantle itself in the face of a financial crisis. Instead, we will get more and more taxes in the years ahead to keep feeding the beast. This very process of taxing the citizens to keep the state apparatus alive will to capital flights and emigration as we chose to escape the clutches of the politico-mandarin complex.

There will come a time when, far from being one and the same thing, the Irish State and the Irish citizen will become inimical.
This is exactly what Eisenhower was warning about.

In Ireland it’s not just ideology driving government decisions as postulated by some commentators. This might be too simple. What is driving policy here is something much more ugly and much more resilient: it is old-fashioned self-preservation — instinctive, corruptible and deadly.


  1. Good Morning – today is the day after the one before we last read the previous posts.It’s a New Day.

    David says : ‘we’re the losers in silence ……’ . If you think deeper about those words there can be another reason as to ‘why’.It is interesting that we are ‘in silence’ at this dangerous juncture .We are not roaring our heads off being losers .We are deeply ‘in silence’.I find this amazing.
    We are obviously responding to a cause for that silence during this excrutiating experience we have around us .The experience of being ‘losers’usually requires ‘a retaliation’ such as ‘give it back to me’ .We seem to speak to and or communicate to our minds ‘it is not mine to lose’ in the first place.We do not recognise our own self importance as ‘a people’.
    When we last rebelled and caused a revolution it was before the present system of schooling.These people who rebelled had growm up in a collective community then that had a stronger colonial imprint in their everyday language .Those of the revolutionaries who learned Gaelic did so from a colonial English imprint in their minds so to them Gaelic was a language they chosed by choice ,usually in adulthood, so to become members of a new club to expouse the causes and aspirations they dreamed about then.
    In everday English when we say ‘I’ we denote this in a capital letter to show it’s significance and importance .Its use may have begun from after the Battle of Hastings to embrace the experience of winning and defeating another enemy in battle and taking back what was theirs to win .’I’ believe when ‘I’ say what ‘I’ want to write on this blog.’I’ feel right what ‘I’ mean to say .Now I am expeiencing a winning sensation in doing so.

    So who are we the readers on this blog? It is my belief that we are all products of ‘an Irish schooling system’ and this has left an imprint in our minds in the Republic.None of the revolutionaries had this schooling.Even Gerry Adams ( from NI )had an English schooling system under colonial English and Gaelic was his language by choice subsequently.
    So what makes the difference between the schooling systems between each parts of the Island and UK?
    As we all know Gaelic is compulsory and this means it is imposed upon us .In Gaelic we do not have a word for ‘I’ .This means we do not have a word for our own self importance .This means we cannot relate to ‘getting back what we believe is our own and taken from us’, in other words we fail to be part of a winning community against a foreign experience.In the Republic I believe we speak a form of English that is ingrained in an Irish syntax and a gaelic thought process.What foreign battles have we won in the past when we spoke Gaelic ?
    We need to ask ourselves how shoule we be thinking now so to win what we will eventually lose forever.

  2. Tull McAdoo

    @John, i think the truth is that we dont really speak Irish by choice. We dont think in Irish and most importantly, I am told by those who understand the psychology behind these matters , “we do not dream in Irish”.

    • Yes you are correct but neither do we think like the way the english do as their first language .I am referring to the process of thinking rather than actual thinking in another language other than english.So while we speak in english we may think in a gaelic process of expression instead of colonial pure english.The difference is when we think we are not competent in empowering the person ‘I’.So always we are doomed to fail as a nation as a result.We are just a second fiddle and a very small one at that.

      • If how we speak is a reflection in ourselves then to deny the empowerment of ‘I’ ( as a capital letter) is restraining ourselves and allowing others (~ foreign) to lead instead.In effect we are thinking we are dumb and doing a good job at proving that too and that is what the world sees us to be.

        • Irish Monks perfected the art of ‘Reverence’ and did so by denoting ‘empowerment’ in new letters to win new markets .Vikings became sunsumed to their winning ways and it was from this pedestal that we as a nation must start to believe ourselves to be before others take our garlands.

  3. Gege Le Beau

    Replace the word ‘war’ with ‘economic terrorism’ and you get some idea of what is going on in the world.

    “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”

    George Orwell
    English essayist, novelist, & satirist (1903 – 1950)

  4. dav0

    I wouldn’t normally come in here just to have a snipe at the government and then just go away but why not?

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/minister-refused-to-discuss-way-of-cutting-euro500m-rescue-contract-2288093.html

    It seems to me, that Dempsey could have built his own high speed rail link to Derry, just for that visit and it still wouldn’t be a piss in the ocean compared to what his government have done to this country.

    I’m not nailing my colours to a mast but I’ve never been an avid Indo reader. Is it just me or is the Times just being too darned polite and PC about everything of late?

    Normally, I respect a degree of objectivity and journalistic detachment and I totally despise sensationalism. But come on, sometimes you just need to call it like it is.

    David McW you are right. In deference to the title of this article – this is a coup. If coldblow can indulge me for mentioning it yet again, the echoes of what you are saying are reverberating soundly through that Atlantic ‘Quiet Coup’ article from May 2009 which has been previously alluded to.

    If only our government weren’t so thick, as to realise it was being taken over, it could mobilise our elite defense forces.

    David.

    • stanb

      Dav0 wrote: “It seems to me, that Dempsey could have built his own high speed rail link to Derry, just for that visit and it still wouldn’t be a piss in the ocean compared to what his government have done to this country.”

      You are correct. You may now have to do what we did in Poland in the 1970-ties and 1980-ties – to form an alternative unofficial society and alternative economic stuctures outside of your “looters” control. Self-support groups based on the idea of, for example Polish KSS-KOR would help a lot. It worked!
      Stan

  5. Josey

    Hearty friends and struggler,
    I condemn the distraction that is Ivor Callely and Dempsey TD. This saga is covering the real news of 8000 extra Irishmen and women without work.

    Everyman and woman should demand a livelihood from their land of birth….but we have X-Factor and pints to sedate us…until these disappear we will do nothing.

    for allowing corrupt politicians…SHAME ON US!!

    for failing to become self sufficient…SHAME ON US!!

    for selling out to globalism where Brazilian beef competes with farmer brown at home…SHAME ON US!!!

    for allowing complete Bankers to continue to rape us…SHAME ON US!!!

    • I understand your frustration, but spare thought for poor Doomsday. He’s been rattling along making political mileage out of electoral reform since 1997. http://bit.ly/dAwbB4

      “Because it’s so important, reform of the Electoral system should not be left to the political system. We need to urgently set up the Electoral Commission committed to in the Programme for Government to give them a task to present an objective assessment of our current system and alternatives to that system. We need real public discussion and debate moderated by that independent body and we need a proposal to put to the people on reformed Electoral system as a matter of urgency.”

      Another waste of time commission to tell us what we already know. We already know the reforms that are needed. It should be a simple matter to bring forward legislative proposals to copy European reforms. Doomsday alludes to some reforms in his speech. The speech in general could have been authored by any gombeen able to observe the self evident.

      To deliver the speech apparently Doomsday chartered the government jet http://bit.ly/dDss5E including garda cars, security, flew to London for a stay at the Kensington and ‘important meeting’ The mind boggles…ironic really, given his party have done their best to destroy democracy in Ireland with bankocracy, but we’re used to janus-faced forking bungler tongue wagging preaching one thing practicing something else. Kudos to Express? reporter who got that story.

    • Gege Le Beau

      Hear Hear!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. http://bit.ly/bp3Iir

    “I think calling for it to be extended is absolutely the right thing to do,” Anglo Irish CEO Mike Aynsley told national broadcaster RTE in an interview.

    “The banking system here is not stable at this point in time and needs to be stabilised. Until this happens, the government will need to continue to support the underlying markets.” Aynsley agreed when asked if another 12 months was the right timeframe for the extension.”

    We should not extend the guarantee to include Anglo period. It’s not systemic to the Irish banking system. Depositors should be offered in conjunction with BOI and AIB simplified ways to transfer deposits to these banks. The guarantee should be extended to include only AIB and BOI.

    Anglo was and is purely a property investment bank. The good loans that remain of €10 – 15bn invested in a newly incarnated ‘good bank’ could at best serve 3% – 5% of the Irish market, but who would bother to go near it?

    We need a good ‘static kill’ of Anglo. Currently Anglo has leaked losses to the Irish taxpayer of €22 bn. But these losses are mounting and could reach figures way in excess of this figure as the NAMA process continues.

    http://bit.ly/dAfcZk

    “BP is doing everything we can to make this right. We continue to work to stop the flow of oil, clean up the environmental damage, and help make sure that people are compensated for their losses.”

    Taxpayers should only support losses at Anglo in a quid pro quo with Anglo bondholders.

    Its a moral hazard crime against taxpayers to embark on a crazy project of unknown cost to reinvent Anglo to benefit failed bankers against the more sensible option of ‘polluter pays’

    Isn’t it about time we took control of our country away from bankers and FF who’ve sold out to them and are no more than the glove puppets of international financiers whose least concern is the Irish taxpayer.

    • On the theme of D’s ‘Silent takeover’ theme Nick Webb in Business Section, Sunday Indo, today Aug 8 deserves kudos for his FOI research into appointment diaries of the Secretary General of the DofF, David Doyle and his recent replacement, Kevin Cardiff. Webb noted many meetings in the runup to meltdown in 2008 with Former Fianna Fail General Secretary Pat Farrell, who happens to be chief executive of The Irish Banking Federation, the main lobby group for the banks.’Former Revenue Chief Frank Daly popped in two days after the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Sept 15. He would be appointed to the Board of Anglo Irish Bank some weeks later.’

      http://bit.ly/bb8WHn

      More research into the precise relationships between the banks and FF should be done.

      So who, if not rudderless FF, has taken over. Whose in charge of policy and democracy: Here you go, read the following ‘we can be very nice once we get our money’ speech from Farrell:

      Turning the Corner – Speech by Pat Farrell, Chief Executive, Irish Banking Federation
      May 07, 2010

      http://bit.ly/deOgqM

      Er no, the speech wasn’t given by mobile phone from Mountjoy:) Interesting points about taxpayers getting paid back their investment in the banks in the future, we’d all like more detail on that phantasm. ‘Turning the Corner’ means banks are a little bit better with screwed taxpayers money. The Anglo Black Hole not alluded to!

      It would appear the country is being run by the banks!

      • To be fair he leaves the messy business of financing the bank bailouts and sordid details like paying for public services, social welfare etc to his glove puppet.

  7. coldblow

    Crotty regards the state in the post-colonial context as by definition inimical of the people.

    I was talking to a Mayoman last week whosaid that it was all caused by corrupt politicians, corrupt developers… So I asked him if his own local crowd had done anything conspicuously bad (they include Bev Flynn after all) or had at least kept their tracks clean. Well, for all their faults, he said, they had always done a lot for Mayo etc (God help us!) I see two main problem areas in Ireland: (1) D4 (the geographical entity in this case rather than the wider D4 mindset as defined by John Waters) and (2) rural Ireland (including all its small towns, and that includes Cork). When you subtract Dublin’s extensive urban wastelands (for self-evident reasons) it doesn’t leave much does it? Ballinteer, perhaps, and a couple of similar places…

    Where do you start?. Personally, I’d like to suggest beginning with Sunday Miscellany (never waste a crisis) and working out rapidly from there.

    Anyway, the following bit from Crotty about Irish politics, written 25 years ago, caught my eye:

    “The factions serve their clients’ interests through their control, when in office, of a public expenditure equivalent to over two-thirds of GNP; one third of which expenditure is financed by borrowing and, therefore, at the cost of future taxpayers and not at the cost of their present clients. The remarkable extent to which governments have been able and willing to finance their expenditure by ‘painless’ borrowing, in much the same way as the absolute monarchs of Renaissance Europe, has conferred on Irish government a fairy-godmother character. Sustained, large scale borrowing has made government in Ireland a cornucopia of public and private benefits. Access to the fount ot plenty is not automatic. It is reached through the mediation of politician patrons who, of necessity, devote a major part of their time and resources to constituency ‘clinics’ where they serve their clients’ interests by negotiating them through the webs of bureaucratic inertia and of competing interests, and at the expense of those who omit to secure patronal services.

    “As the emigration of Irish radicalism left the field clear for the remarkable dominance of Irish politics, from O’Connell to Cosgrave, by a polyglot collection of non-Irish persons, so the continued removal by emigration of normal political disciplines facilitated the subsequent dominance of Irish politics for persons with a less than usual regard for the public good. The 166 members of parliament, or Dail deputies, collectively have the power to allocate the £2.6 billions that the political establishment annually raises by the painless of expedient of expanding national debt. Each deputy/ patron has on average, th power to dispense among his clients £16 millions annually of public funds, secured free from the odium of taxation. The personal nature of patron/ client relationships, which are the essence of politics in the Irish Republic, is reflected in the exceptionally dynastic nature of those politics…

    “Control of the expenditure of public funds equivalent to over two-thirds of GNP in an Ireland where, for generations, only half the oncoming population have been able to get a livelihood, creates an extreme dependence on the part of the public on the politicians. Or as Thomas Paine would have put it: the governors are furnished with the means of corruption and the governed are put in the condition of being corrupted. Perhaps the closest parallel in history to the dependence of the Irish public on their politicians is that of the plebeian clients on their patrician patrons in the final decades of the Roman Republic.

    “Just as the patron/ client relationships of the later Roman Republic gave rise to unbearable tensions as parties contended for the power that had become concentrated into the hands of a few leading citizens, Irish politics are increasingly and inescapably conducted with a view to securing office and thereby control of the public purse. Control of an exchequer bloated by borrowing enables patrons to reward clients who, in a fatally flawed economy, are utterly dependent on these rewards. The actual or prospective reward of clients, like the disastrous civil wars of the final years of the Roman Republic, adds another dimension of inefficiency, iniquity and corruption to the former capitalist colonial Irish scene.”

  8. Tumbrel Cart

    “It is old-fashioned self-preservation – instinctive, corruptible and deadly”. Only recently Dr Michael Somers former head of the NTMA and ‘one of our most respected civil servants’ said he would have been blown out of the water if he had pursued his concerns about Anglo Irish!!! A fate worse than death no doubt? So what did he do to save the State? Well we all know that when he went overboard it wasn’t into the freezing waters. No fear of that. More like boarding a luxury yacht. That’s the prize for self-preservation. The Irish Officer Corps know how to look after themselves. These “fine minds” were not born for heroics. There was and will be no “deed to engross the present and dominate memory”. Only the Paddys are sent over the top.

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