Anglo tapes: What a parcel of rogues in a nation!
Yet again Ireland has amazed the world with an astonishing passivity. The massive blows of the credit crunch have been followed by the Anglo tapes, where we find from secret recordings that the billions extracted from Irish workers were the result of criminal conspiracy. Bankers persuaded the state to sign up for the total bank debt by pretending that the debt was a tiny fraction of its actual size.
The whole affair was a one-day wonder. A few small socialist demonstrations called for the bankers to be jailed and that was the limit of protest.
How do we explain such apathy?
The culture in the Irish state is one of utter dependency. The nationalist experiment failed and was replaced by a policy of attracting and servicing transnational companies - to such an extent current strategy is to build Ireland as a major tax haven. Itís not the culture that suppresses workers protest. It is the material structures that flow from that culture. As the Anglo tapes unrolled it became perfectly obvious that the government was a perfectly willing dupe and would have guaranteed any bailout. What shines out of the tape is the overweening arrogance of the Irish ruling class and the level of contempt for the working class. One former minister was forced to admit he knew all about the tapes but kept them secret because, he said, of possible legal action.
But the pool of cronies was much wider than bankers and government. David Begg, secretary of ICTU, was on the board of the Central bank. He and the head of SIPTU, Jack OíConnor, were called into a meeting by the finance minister hours before the bailout was announced.
Begg has never reported to the workers he supposedly represents. He claims he was told nothing and knew nothing. His entire career since the bailout has consisted of pushing through endless austerity. When he was called on in an RTE radio programme to explain himself ICTU reacted by calling for a podcast of the programme to be pulled.
A socialist campaign to remobilise the working class should not start by calling on the representatives of Gombeen capital to jail their pals among the bankers. Our first target must be the wolves of capital standing in sheepís clothing within the working class.