This first of many blog posts on one of middle Ireland’s increasingly frantic attempts to distract themselves from them epiphany slaps along dat long, slow descent into existential crisis that is waking up to the effects of austerity and all those structural reforms. Structural reforms: reforming the structure of our society quietly and efficiently with economic policy. It can take the form of violent attacks leaving families on the street, but this violence is hidden behind economics. Easier on the eye, for civilised people like. This, as Bill Black explained, is what austerity is designed to do, and he points out it’s really another way of saying ‘attacking workers rights’.
Economics is politics is economics. Austerity is also another word for ‘dismantle the welfare state’ and ‘attack and re-brand the working class as underclass to scare the middle’.
“Austerity is the road to Bangladesh: it takes a first world country to a third world country in about fifteen years” -Bill Black
The economic policy might take us to a de-populated 3rd world state, but that is the plan as discussed at another panel. The stability of a coma patient. This ain’t my opinion – that’s from Bill Black, world famous economist dude, advisor to the Icelandic government post-crisis, responsible for actually bringing justice to some of dem wall st guys, an all round buzzer. One of the fascinating characters we managed to nab, and seeing as we value our autonomy and come unaffiliated keepin it lit wit da literature straight from da street pal, we made sure to put the L’s up.
What if I’d have been kinda cool with all those ‘adjustments’ or, in da vernacular, ‘people’s lives being destroyed in the name of a highly ideological economic model’. Bill also explained that austerity goes back to the old Chicago school and is not accepted as legitimate by about 90% of economists. I’d probably be desperately buying into the recovery narrative and praying for a bubble too. The cognitive dissonance is starting to show like an unsightly ankle amongst the chattering class, though: ‘It’s like we’ve just been pretending to ourselves’. Like Prof Steve Keen -another guller and all round buzzer- said: ‘It’s like they are in a state of ennui’ – Keiser Report. We also had the good luck to interview him, one of those academics who gets it: economics as science is delusion, so stop basing public policy on it, please, no…seriously, it’s mental. (Plenty more blogs to follow).
Coming unaffiliated has its downsides, one of which is the sheer cost of attending shows, grabbing overpriced coffee and food because, well, we were basically stalking self important people who were having great fun avoiding us.
Tickets are priced between €13-18 concession, or €15-20ish with about 4-6 shows a day. That woohoo €70 quid a day started to look a lil less impressive.
One of the shows we had pre-booked was ‘Ireland: The best little democracy money can buy’, where there was no talk of democracy or how it is being undermined. Maybe it was the presence of former government advisers on the panel that kept the enthralled chattering class hanging off the every word of our great and good discussing the state of their state. They did talk quite a bit about the usual: stroke politics, roundabouts and an excess of motorways #inspirational. Apparently there’s too much money, somebody should tell the food banks.
The general consensus was that the budget was designed to buy “us” off, which put the minimum wage of audience members at about €50-70k.
Although I did my thing, grabbed that mic and pointed out that it hadn’t bought me or the people who had made quiet sacrifices to help get us there off, the sheer effort of being heard at this gathering. The panel had said ‘if the state’ or ‘maybe if they change’ -#abusiveRelationship- quite a bit so I asked the question, that they spoke about the state as some immutable object when we as citizens have that responsibility..to a round of applause so I suspect the desire is there, just not the license.
I had posted some of this blog including the lack of discussion about democracy in the talk about democracy.
was kind enough to type up the full description and explain that it would have been his personal preference to speak about democracy. And that fair enough, it didn’t mention democracy. Although Cormac Lucey former adviser to the government kept pointing out the oldest states are useless lumbering beasts, and they can last a long oul time, so don’t be gettin’ ideas.
Constantin was not alone, though. The next morning at the B&B breakfast I got chatting to a father and son who had been at the talk and weren’t completely enthused by the subject matter. The son said that the closest we got to discussing democracy was when some woman asked a question about the state being our responsibility as citizens, which as proud moments go is right up there with getting the nod from the 1916 relatives after busting into the GPO on Enda that time.
Luckily enough, as that Enda video proved, getting into places I’m not s’posed to is kinda my thing. With the help of Gerry Stembridge, instant BFF an partner in crime I managed to get into the Sunday brunch and ask an awkward question about the framing of the shows to a detached upper middle class audience and how to cross that cultural divide and get working class voices on their panels. (Barry Murphy from Apres match was holdin’ the mic so there were one or two butterflies).
Dearbhail McDonald exclaimed that she was working class before wondering aloud what a single mother would contribute. Because she’s workin class but not that type, not the wayward fallen woman type. Her culture and identity must have been a huge struggle to overcome, which she’ll tearfully share with Miriam one day. Sure all that passes thru a single mother’s head is mickey money an scratch cards.
It echoed a conversation from the first night post-Yanis. The Yanis interview was, well, a Yanis interview, we’ve all seen em before. An this was one thing, the chatterin’ of da officer class found the most obvious points ‘absolutely inspired!’ for example that politicians are now technocrats. Or that Greece was used to discipline other austerity countries. The chattering class has some catching-up to do – this was day-to-day conversation during the Troika brutalising of the Greek people.
An expensive smelling woman all wrapped up in fur who asked who we were with and why we were there. We explained that we were attempting to speak with as many people as possible, see as many shows and take in as many ideas as we could to share them on this blog. We also explained that even single mothers were offering us their heating allowance, but we turned it down an blagged our way into a few extra shows. (Still doe – shouts yis know who yis are). The conversation continued as follows:
Yoke: ‘Why would a single mother from Jobstown want to read about Yanis?’
Guller: ‘Why would you?’
Guller: ‘We not allowed dat?’
Yoke: ‘I’m finding you a little aggressive’.
Guller: ‘I find your ideas aggressive and much more dangerous’
At that point one of our soon to be partners in crime intervened and said it was my accent. It could also have been the glass of whiskey an J hangin’ ouffa my lip. To their credit, the rest of the crowd was politely, perhaps even genuinely interested in this prole who had forgotten their place and was talkin’ autonomy and being a responsible citizenry. Even more so, coz once I use up a few jokes der ain’t much, the fact that sacrifices were made to send one person (ok Keith one of our other writers came along, but he fits in, some of us are presentable) along to learn and attempt to be heard. We’re pleased to report that we did a pretty good job on both fronts. And we could not have done it without help, a quick wink an nod here a sneaky message to run to a particular pub, some are slipping into ennui but there are some tough cookies an buzzers there too. They are the ones we need to be reaching out to. The question about working class voices led to a follow up comment from one audience member that perhaps some of the panel had at one point been workin’ class but were no longer and then one pointing out equality ref results with working class areas being up to 90% and how if we did have a voice what the panel assume we may say and what we would say are two vastly different things.
Shoutsta Rabble, @HiredKnave an a few special individuals for their help.