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Correspondence: Capitalism sheds its mask in Cavan

 D R O’Connor Lysaght

28 July 2014

Dear Editor,

It is well known, if admitted rarely, that capitalism is a form of war by other means.  Its essential disorder is expressed mostly in the class war.  However the entrepreneur’s struggle against each other  is equally savage, even though it tends to be fought within the boardrooms.

Occasionally it is impossible to keep these feuds quarantined thus. The stresses become too much to be overcome by gentlemanly agreement and the methods of the Godfather replace those of the CEO.

This is what is happening today in Cavan, according to Irish Times columnist John McManus in is July 14th report. 

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The Quinn Business Retention Company – an alliance of local businessmen and former Quinn management – has teamed up with UK private equity investor Endless to bid €90 million for the businesses. The assets are owned by Aventas, the holding company for the non-insurance assets of the Quinn group. Their bid – which has to be approved by the shareholders in Aventas – has local support, which is important given the febrile atmosphere up there since Sean Quinn’s creditors moved on him in April 2011.

The sense of loyalty to Quinn felt by some is so strong that it has boiled over into a campaign of intimidation and violence against the new managers and also any prospective buyers.

It is pure country. The bad guys are being run out of town. The only discordant note is that Quinn played no small part in wrecking Ireland through his gambling in Anglo Irish Bank shares. His subsequent behaviour, as his business collapsed, left him facing charges related to trying to put a foreign property portfolio worth hundreds of millions of euro beyond the reach of his creditors. His response has been to sue the State for €4.5 billion, saying his business was seized illegally.

However, all of this seems to have done little to dilute the tacit support for Sean Quinn. Some 70 attacks have been carried out at former Quinn companies including a home-made car bomb being driven into a building full of workers. There have been death threats and arson attacks against prospective buyers Lagan Group and Ceva.

There is no suggestion any of the individuals in the QBRC are involved. They may well be unwitting beneficiaries as other potential buyers have thought twice. Theirs is the only offer on the table and some of the owners of Aventas – former bondholders in the Quinn Group and the liquidator of Anglo Irish Bank – believe their offer does not reflect full value”.

From a socialist perspective the striking element is that the capitalist exploiters have a free hand, even in this atmosphere of crisis and war, with no expression of the needs of the working class. In fact there is no doubt that a section of local workers show fervent loyalty to Quinn, despite his involvement in the collapse of the Irish economy. 

The glue that holds workers and bosses together is the glue of bourgeois nationalism. Yet the fact that the national unity of worker and employer are totally bogus is shown by the fact that the Quinn Business Retention Company, as were its potential opponents, is financed by private equity speculators – by finance capital with no connection to the local economy.

The local admiration for clientelism and the “cute hoor” translates nationally into the reactionary nationalism of social partnership and the total failure of working class leadership that has characterised the rule of the Troika. To the extent that Irish capital can claim any sort of recovery it is simply demonstrating that capitalist stability depends absolutely on making the workers pay.

The novel “The ragged trousered Philanthropists”, written by Irishman Robert Tressell should be required reading in every Irish household.


Raynor Lysaght

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