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Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland

Dublin.

On Tuesday, November 17, Cormac Gollogly married Richard Dowling in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. This was Ireland’s first gay wedding. It followed the May 22 referendum that constitutionalised same-sex marriage in Ireland. What appears humane however is tinged with corruption. The fact is that the opportunism and venality that made Ireland infamous during the financial bubble a decade ago has been sublimated and now manifests itself in gay pride. In other words, Ireland’s new found love affair with homosexuality has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with homo-capitalism.

Is Ireland the first country in the world to paint itself pink for the love of money? Bangkok places it’s women on the market, Amsterdam commodifies it’s prostitutes and now Dublin attempts to do the same with it’s queers. And Ireland’s gay community to it’s discredit has swallowed the bait: same-sex marriage. This salacious game was exposed a few weeks ago when the openly gay CEO of Apple, Tim Cooke, was in Ireland unveiling Apple’s latest expansion in Cork (at the same time he was defending his company’s tax dodging Irish escapades). When asked in a number of media interviews about the correlation between Ireland’s gay policies and Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland, Cooke confirmed that Ireland’s new homosexuality is now a comparative advantage.

The link between queer Ireland and corporate America is compounded by the fact that a billionaire from New Jersey, Chuck Feeney, was the sugar daddy behind Ireland’s same-sex coup last May. Feeney gave one million Euros (or was it one million Dollars?) to the gay cause. And why wouldn’t he? Corporate Americans barely pay tax, so they’ve a huge surplus to play with. And sure isn’t Ireland their offshore, on-line and rent-free boy. I kid you not. The Irish economy’s only creative purpose these days is to pump up the profits of Corporate America. So much American money is parked in contemporary Ireland, it is a wonder that the green isle is not sinking. Although it may be sinking into the slime of smugness.

According to the Irish Times, “Ireland is the number one destination in the world for US foreign direct investment”. And the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, “reveals that US firms have invested more than $277 billion [in Ireland] since 1990”. And why? It’s not because the Irish are worth it. They really aren’t. No, it’s simply greed. The Yanks pay a ridiculously low level of corporate tax in Ireland. The Irish rate is 12.5%. In contrast the American rate is 35%, while in Cambodia it is 20%, in Palestine 15% and in Indonesia 25%. So in global citizenship terms Ireland is low life, which makes it perfect for Corporate America.

So why the need for homo-capitalism in the Emerald Isle? Because the rest of the world is fed up with Ireland’s beggar thy neighbour tax regime. The G20 which met in Turkey recently, supported by the OECD, are actively targeting the tax havens that disfigure the real economy of the world (the so called Beps project). And Ireland is one of those places. The OECD’s chief economist, Catherine Mann, warned Ireland loud and clear only a week or so ago: “in the future Ireland is going to have to seek real investment based on comparative advantages other than tax”. And this is where the same-sex show comes into play. Having few if any comparative advantages to speak of, Ireland has been consciously or unconsciously on the look out for a new business friendly issue. With few cards to play the idea of a “San Francisco on the Liffey” as opposed to a “Lichtenstein on the Liffey” took root.

Ireland’s neoliberal-labour movement did the rest. Dressing up the same-sex scam in the clothes of “equality”, they easily sold it to the Irish voters. After years of casino capitalism and right-wing austerity it was understandable why “equality” was so attractive. The equality on offer, however, was basically meaningless. It did not mean, for instance, equality between Ireland’s capitalists and it’s workers, nor between Ireland and it’s creditors. A referendum was called which avoided Ireland’s real problems – EU entrapment and the abuse which this entails. Instead a phoney problem was created: same-sex marriage. In probably Europe’s most unequal society, the Irish political class (Ireland’s comprador capitalists) mocked and teased the people by waiving “equality” in their faces. The fact that this class supplies in every way vicious inequality was ignored. As usual the Irish state, on the lookout for a gimmick to sell to America, grabbed at the latest inanity emanating from the White House: same-sex marriage.

And Ireland’s gay community? They’ve been co-opted by multinational markets. What was once the most marginalised part of Irish society is now gloating. Turning its back on the real lives of the marginalised, it now embraces middle class mediocrity – as if to be gay is to be essentially middle class. The fact that Ireland’s gay population is predominantly working class, like everyone else, means that it faces greater problems than whether to marry or not. And by buying into the marriage myth, Ireland’s gay leaders have sacrificed real social and economic progress for a piece of bourgeois respectability. Placing it’s own identity first in society’s long march forward, the gay community has misidentified it’s allies. And who are the natural allies of homosexuality? I tend to agree with Oscar Wilde, Michael Foucault and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Each of these men embraced the prisoners, the prostitutes and the proletariat, rather than the CEOs. And the Irish people have much more in common with the former rather than the latter. For the sake of marriage, Ireland’s gays have joined a bankrupt system.

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Aidan O’Brien lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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