• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Painting the Irish Titanic Pink

What’s the most opportunistic thing a country can do in today’s vacant political culture? Elect a youthful face as leader? What about a coloured face as führer? Or an LGBT front man or woman? Forever trying to hitch a ride on the latest capitalist trends – Ireland just did all of the above. And it all means nothing. Ireland could elect the first black female pope as it’s leader and it still wouldn’t change the empty feeling one gets in the Emerald Isle these days.

In June the Irish parliament made Leo Varadkar Taoiseach (leader). At the age of 38 – not only is he the youngest person to hold this position – he’s also the first Irish leader to have roots in the Third World (India). And to cap all of this “exciting” package – he’s also the first openly gay man to lead the country. Indeed, according to Pink News, only three other nations in the world, in recent times, ever had openly gay leaders.

But does anyone care? In an Ireland were economics and geopolitics are untouchable subjects because foreign “experts” (or gangsters – the UK, IMF, EU and USA) know best: a gay and colourful leadership amounts to being a cultural cosmetic or game and nothing more. Why bother play it or endorse it – especially when the gay leadership in question is right wing?

Leo Varadkar is the leader of Fine Gael – Ireland’s most right wing political party. Since the birth of the southern Irish State (1922), Fine Gael – or as it was known back then Cumann na nGaedheal – has been the Irish guard dog of private property. So much so that it worked clandestinely with Winston Churchill during the Irish civil war. And attracted the support of the pro-British (pro-Empire) landlords who decided to stay in the Free State.

In 1933 the Fine Gael brand was officially launched – just in time for the fascist trend. Accordingly some of its members (the Blue-shirts) would go on to fight for Franco in Spain. And the rest would go on squeezing Ireland dry for the sake of profit.

Since the 1930s Fine Gael has been mostly on the sidelines cheering for landlordism – the Irish curse. But in Garrett Fitzgerald it found a late capitalist intellectual (and Taoiseach in the 1980s) who easily stirred the party towards hedge funds and the “values” of the international markets. Unfortunately for Ireland – after those markets collapsed between 2008 and 2010, power fell into the hands of Fine Gael. And instinctively it followed foreign orders and plugged the country back into those failed markets.

This is the political genealogy of Leo Varadkar. And it coincides perfectly with his genes. Fine Gael may be Irish but it’s politics fits into the Indian caste system. As do all capitalist organisations. Varadkar – like Churchill and Gandhi – would say social divisions are written in stone. The rich will always be rich. And the poor always poor. That’s just the way it is.

Sexual divisions are another matter. Apparently these are not written in stone and can be turned upside down. And why not? Capitalism has turned everything upside down. Contemporary capitalists though, while embracing sexual revolution, don’t entertain social revolution. While they’re all for free love – they can’t tolerate free education or free housing. It’s a case of them stealing the freedom of the left while at the same time sticking a knife into the back of the left.

This type of arrogance and hypocrisy from liberated queers is hard to take. One of Leo Varadkar’s first acts as Taoiseach was to attack people depending on social welfare – as if the bank bailouts and austerity are not happening. However we’ve seen many liberated feminists do the same. Hillary Clinton for example. And that queen of reaction: Margret Thatcher. Ireland’s new queen is following their lead. The lesson is the usual one: when it comes to politics one’s social class means much more than one’s gender and sexuality.

The prospects for Ireland therefore are not great. Free love doesn’t translate into justice or even common sense. Varadkar is committed to paying off Ireland’s odious debt. All €200 billion of it. Plus the 8% of government revenue each year that services it. Fine Gael doesn’t question this debt servitude. On a per capita basis – only Japan’s and America’s debt problems are worse than Ireland’s. Compared to these economic giants however, southern Ireland’s pygmy-like reality (population: 4.7 million) is extremely vulnerable.

Varadkar & Co. also don’t question the monetary policy of the European Central Bank – which, while Ireland drowns in sovereign debt and is battered by austerity, pumps €60 billion every month into the European financial markets for free (quantitative easing). The priorities of the EU are clear. The troubled banks are to be indulged while the troubled EU nations (the PIIGS) are to be slaughtered.

But that’s OK for Varadkar! He’s a loyalist. He’s loyal to the Empire. He’s a committed “centralist” like the other new kid on the block, Emmanuel Macron. Which means they both are committed to the needs of the transnational corporations.

In Ireland’s case that means corporate America. That’s why Varadkar is now on the cover of TIME. He’s America’s new man in Europe. Indeed Varadkar was groomed by something called the Washington Ireland Program – a US organisation that “inspires and develops promising [Irish] leaders”. He was in its “Class of 2000”. So the 700 plus US companies with an “international HQ” in the south of Ireland can rest assured. The $343 billion corporate America has parked in and around Dublin – for tax dodging reasons – is safe for the moment.

You could call it a gay conspiracy. Since Ireland’s greatest corporate client – Apple Inc. – is led by the openly gay Tim Cook: the country’s new found sexuality is suspiciously convenient. However there’s no difference between homo-capitalism and hetro-capitalism. We wish there was. But the equality on offer these days is only negative. All capitalists – gay and straight – are equally bad.

The bottom line is that two bad bubbles completely distort Ireland’s rainbow republic. And each one could go pop at any moment. Together they form a uniquely absurd political economy (it’s called “leprechaun economics”). An enormous national debt and an enormous dependence on hot American money do not form the basis for any kind of rationality or stability. And the overall management of it all isn’t even in the hands of the Irish. Berlin and London have Dublin’s independence by the balls. And Boston’s nuclear bombs are raping any chance of a future in which to express Irish independence.

Pink is a pretty colour though. But it won’t scare away the icebergs that are all over the North Atlantic. Ireland floats blindly amongst them – in search of money instead of freedom and safety. It’s venality has already been hit hard this century. And the next hit could be fatal. However, if that’s the only way to finish off the politics of landlordism and “corporate tax breaks” in Ireland: lets have it. Let’s encourage Varadkar as he describes the place as “an island at the centre of the world”. Such cockiness crashed the Titanic. And will do so again. Let’s be ready this time.

More articles by:

Aidan O’Brien lives in Dublin, Ireland.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 27, 2019
Ed Sanders
Monsanto is Evil: a Glyph
Elliot Sperber
The Snow Leopards of Central Park 
Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail