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Nathan Tankus: Marx on Ireland, Then and Now

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By Nathan Tankus, a student and research assistant at the University of Ottawa. He is currently a Visiting Researcher at the Fields Institute. You can follow him on Twitter at @NathanTankus

There are many seminal thinkers who are so well known they’re never read. This category includes Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, Immanuel Kant, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Fredrich Hayek, John Maynard Keynes and many, many others.

One thinker I’d like to focus on is Karl Marx. Rather than write about the issues that fill thousands of pages in academic journals (topics like the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, under-consumption, the “transformation problem” etc), I want to focus on Irish emigration. This is a topic from an interesting passage in Marx’s writing – one that I’ve read little discussion of among Marxists and anti-Marxists alike. My feelings about this area of Marx’s Capital are beautifully articulated in this quote from Joan Robinson: “I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect.”

One of the greatest human catastrophes, the Great Famine, occurred between roughly 1845-1852. Marx lays out his analysis of Ireland’s near death experience in Chapter 25 of volume one of Capital. Estimates vary but one commonly cited estimate says that during this time period about one million people died and one million emigrated.That would be more than 20% of the population.

As I documented in an earlier piece, emigration is a major problem for defenders of free trade from David Ricardo to Paul Krugman. The reason is simple: the most popular and most cited defenses of free trade provide numerical examples where the same amount of labor and capital produce more than they did before. However, if there is net emigration (or death) of labor, any of those efficiency gains can easily be wiped out by losing laborers (especially skilled ones). Additionally, if “efficiency” results in increased unemployment rather then reduced working time, it really isn’t socially “efficient” at all. As Marx says, “England,… would have bled to death with such a drain of population as Ireland has suffered”.

Despite appearing in the middle of one of the densest treatises on political economy ever written, Marx’s argument is quite straightforward. He, in contrast to Malthusians of the time, didn’t think that the famine and resulting suffering was being driven by “absolute surplus population” (what is commonly referred to as overpopulation) but by “relative surplus population”. According to the Malthusians (as seen by Marx) absolute overpopulation means that there are too many people no matter how society is organized. In contrast, Marx argued that the starving, under/unemployed and emigrating were only superfluous “relative” to the demand for labor by Capitalists, rentiers, (especially in the Irish case) Landlords etc (see also chapter 12 of the Grundrisse. As evidence he cited statistics showing that the “production of relative surplus population has more than kept pace with the absolute depopulation”. From this perspective what was needed was not more and more sustained net emigration but changes in social institutions that led to the employment and social uplift of the suffering groups (or, more radically, a destruction of the employee relationship altogether).

Needless to say, this was not the prevailing view among other social commentators of the time. According to Marx, the discussion was dominated by the “land Magnate”. Marx argued that landlords defended the ideas of absolute overpopulation because they needed to clear their land of small farmers so that they could switch from growing crops to the more profitable grazing land for cattle. From this perspective, the potato blight was socially produced since small farmers were pushed into monocropping as the only crop that a family could survive farming on such small plots. Then the subsequent impact on the population in both death and emigration was sustained by the policies of “individual landlords and by the English legislature”. One can easily see the antecedents to modern Austerians in Marx’s summary of Lord Dufferin’s position:

Lord Dufferin is one of those land magnates. That rent-rolls and profits can ever be “excessive,” or that their plethora is in any way connected with plethora of the people’s misery is, of course, an idea as “disreputable” as “unsound.” He keeps to facts. The fact is that, as the Irish population diminishes, the Irish rent-rolls swell; that depopulation benefits the landlords, therefore also benefits the soil, and, therefore, the people, that mere accessory of the soil. He declares, therefore, that Ireland is still over-populated, and the stream of emigration still flows too lazily. To be perfectly happy, Ireland must get rid of at least one-third of a million of labouring men. Let no man imagine that this lord, poetic into the bargain, is a physician of the school of Sangrado, who as often as he did not find his patient better, ordered phlebotomy and again phlebotomy, until the patient lost his sickness at the same time as his blood.

Lest one thinks that Marx is fighting a strawman, you can read Lord Dufferin in the original.

Continuing the analogy to modern events, it is especially striking to see the analogy of bloodletting that has become commonplace among critics of austerity (see this post from Michael Hudson for example). Despite Marx’s radical reputation, mainstream economists such as Kevin O’Rourke have stated something similar:

Extensive farming favored landowners but led to diminished employment opportunities. The permanent nature of the blight necessitated a switch away from old farming styles. The possibility that the Famine also provided farms with the opportunity for such a switch cannot be discounted, for of course if extensive farming was their most profitable option, one must ask why they did not switch sooner. From the perspectives of landlords and farmers, the Famine cleared large tracts of land of the smallholdings which made large-scale grazing difficult. Viewed in this light, the Famine served as a sort of speeded-up enclosure movement.

Ireland’s experience in the 19th century has implications not only for today, but specifically for modern Ireland. Ireland never really recovered from the great famine. It had net emigration for the rest of the 19th century and most of the 20th century. According to Martin Ruhs of University of Oxford: “In 1996, Ireland reached its migration ‘turning point,’ making it the last EU Member State to become a country of net immigration”. With the onset of the Euro crisis, unemployment in Ireland reached well above 10% and stayed there. As a result, net emigration has returned to Ireland according to the last migration estimates produced by the Central Statistics Office (click to enlarge).

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at 2.10.26 AM

Thus, in Marx’s language, Irish and Eurozone policy has produced a “relative surplus population” and reproduced the conditions which led to net emigration Ireland. The difference is largely in the fact that now Ireland has a social safety net. This may not be true for long, as Ireland implements budget cut after budget cut as the “powers that be” demand. Rather than being pushed by the British however, this austerity is being pushed by the Eurozone and the IMF. Just last week, according to the Irish Examiner,

The International Monetary Fund said Ireland should stick to the terms of the bailout agreement and cut €3.1bn from the Budget in October. The IMF said it was not its job to dictate the terms of the Budget, but said that Ireland needed to continue its track record of fiscal consolidation”.

In other words, the blood-letting continues.

Finally, for those watching the history of currency unions closely, it is interesting to note that the Irish pound was ended in 1826. One major (albeit dated) study of Irish economic history argues that “the suppression of paper money in 1826 the tragic effects of the Great Famine twenty years later were made inevitable”. If this latter point about the Irish pound is true, it implies that Ireland has fallen into another trap similar to the one that plagued it in the 19th century. The difference is that this time Ireland’s politicians gave up autonomy rather then having it yanked from them. Words such as tragedy and farce don’t begin to describe their crisis.

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38 comments

  1. OMF

    Marx’s analysis is the definitive economic assesment of the Irish Famine, showing the long and short term social and economic forces which caused it. Here’s his definitive quote:

    “The Irish famine of 1846 killed more than 1,000,000 people, but it killed poor devils only

    The traditional Irish narrative blames England for the famine. But then as now, the ultimate cause of Ireland’s misery lies in the attitudes and leadership of the Irish elites. They continuously profit from the deprivation of the rest of the country.

    This is still the case today. In a time when famine levels of emigration have return to Ireland, in a time of 14% unemployment, in a time of bankruptcy for the state, the economy, and the social contract, in this time, the top 10% have seen their incomes rise by 8% while that of the bottom 90% has fallen.

    Irish elites are feasting on the carcass of the country. The figures prove it.

    1. The Dork of Cork.

      I am not so sure OMF.

      At least in the case of the upper middle class who are also suffering.
      I was doing some Beech bum activities these past few weeks down in Derrynane ….(Danial o Connells birthplace)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StYU1l2io6E

      I had the beech pretty much to myself with only a few surfers in the swell yesterday.
      The point is this –
      This area was always a well to do holiday spot.
      Tourists go to Sneem and do that bus thingy keeping everything busy in that town but the old Catherdaniel faces do not jam up the pubs like they did before.
      (The continentals don’t drink.)
      Late July in the 1980s / 1990s and people would be hanging out the doors ,now……….

      PS the M1 money supply has lifted for some reason.
      Any explanations ?
      Is it internal credit creation or external “The Gathering” tourist money that flows into tourist traps such as Sneem.

  2. Paul Tioxon

    I am not sure Ireland had any autonomy yanked from them in 1826, considering the Irish Revolution was almost a century away in 1916 and did not conclude its Revolution until 1922. But, more out empathy for your scholarship, as a free thinking man who goes where the text takes him, than petty quibbles, I can see the value in Economics as pettifogging the real issue of Ireland. It is one of deliberate genocide, to clear the land of its natives and replace them with colonists from the British Isles in the form of Scottish settlers. Hence, the Scotch-Irish that came to America were the spirit broken colonists of the English Plantations of Ireland that could no longer bear the grim circumstances before them.

    The true scale of the annihilation of the Irish comes to the foreground in looking at the actual population from the 1800′s until today. The Irish were forbidden to own any land, so all rent went to non-Irish landlords.

    ………………………………

    The population of Ireland in 1837 was at a historical high – or at least so the census of 1841 showed four years later. At a time when records were kept regularly but infrequently, such measures can only be approximate.

    The 1841 census showed that there were 8,175,124 people living in the four provinces of Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Only 40 years later, this figure had fallen by over 3 million to 5,174,836 at the 1881 census, 63% of the former value. This figure continued to fall to a recorded historical low of 4,228,553 by 1926.

    The population increased slowly to a figure today of about 5,602,603, this is made up from 3,917,336 in the Republic of Ireland (Census 28 April 2002) and 1,685,267 (Census 29 April 2001) in Northern Ireland.

    http://www.mapspictures.com/ireland/history/ireland_population.htm
    ……………………………………

    3mil gone in a few decades due to death by famine, and forced emigration and then even while sent into labor and slavery in America, yes, actual chattel slavery in many cases, the lot of free laboring Irishmen ended in a quick death as the newly exhumed mass graves of Irish labor gangs are being discovered in the suburbs of Philadelphia, along the Main Line of the historic Pennsylvania RR. The labor gangs of Irishmen right off of the boat were used to build the western routes of the expanding railroads from the East Coast, much as the Chinese were used coming from the West Coast. A population cut in half within a century, compared to an expanding population of Great Britain during the rest of that period tells the story of genocide that was only abandoned by force of arms and revolution. It was not the snakes that needed to be driven from the isle but the British Crown.
    ………………..

    ENGLAND DECENNIAL CENSUS

    1811 8,762,178 +13.0%
    1821 10,402,143 +18.7%
    1831 12,011,830 +15.5%
    1841 13,654,914 +13.7%
    1851 15,288,885 +12.0%
    1861 18,325,052 +19.9%
    1871 21,361,235 +16.6%
    1881 24,397,385 +14.2%
    1891 27,231,229 +11.6%
    1901 30,072,180 +10.4%
    1911 33,561,235 +11.6%
    1921 35,230,225 +5.0%

    The Irish had 8mil in 1846 to Englans’s13mil in 1841. Ireland was down by 1926 to little more than 4mil to England’s 35mil in 1921.

    1. gepay

      … when the economist William Nassau Senior (who took over Thomas Malthus’s position at the East India College) was told that a million people had died in Ireland’s potato famine. He remarked succinctly: “It is not enough.”

  3. Jessica

    “The Irish famine of 1846 killed more than 1,000,000 people, but it killed poor devils only”

    Largely Irish-speaking poor devils at that. The famine played a major role in killing off the Irish language.
    After the famine, the Irish adopted the Anglo-Saxon custom of primogeniture (the eldest son inherited everything), which they had resisted, and which warped family relationships. Read, for example, any play by Eugene O’Neill.

  4. digi_owl

    I find myself wondering if Stalin was the best thing that happened for capitalists everywhere, as it put a permanent stain on Marx’s legacy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think Brezhnev would be the real cause of the stain. Despite Stalin’s thuggery, he was able to at least move forward and undertake major positive changes. Brezhnev was part of the Stalin cult of personality* and since he was nothing more than a cult follower the USSR began a major decline which could be glossed over by various, creative statistics.

      Marx point about Irish capitalists not having a use for surplus labor reminds me of a lament of Gorbachev about how the USSR could outproduce the USA in so many practical fields but not produce standards of living reflective of that production during his sixish year time in office. Brezhnev wasn’t a socialist as much as he was a loyal cultist. In the end, he only had use for what propped up his status in the cult, much like Obots. The Soviet economy began a change from this building empire which weathered the Great Depression, beat back the blunt of Nazi aggression, and bestrode Eurasia to creaky machine which was out of date.

      *Brezhnev came up with Khrushchev patronage, but in the end, Brezhnev sided with the Stalin cultists who were worried about their place amid Khruschev’s reforms. He may not have kept a picture of Stalin above his bed, but he sided with the cultists.

      1. digi_owl

        Well Stalin and gulags are what gets played each time anything remotely Marx gets mentioned outside of places like this very site.

      2. gepay

        I also agree. Say what you will about Stalin. The Soviet Union beat the Nazis. And they had heavy industry to do it because of Stalin. This heavy industry somehow got moved to behind the Urals as the Germans invaded. A massive feat.
        Does this forgive his betrayal of Lenin’s revolution and causing the death of as many Russians as the Germans? I don’t think so.

      3. Nathanael

        In retrospect, Brezhnev is what destroyed the Soviet Union.

        Even though Stalin was utterly callous and murderous, he got a lot done. Kruschev was trying and actually did get stuff done too.

        Brezhnev presided over the complete deterioration of every institution in USSR society with a cultist’s mentality, performing rituals with no reality associated to them.

        Gorbachev tried to fix the mess Brezhnev had created, but couldn’t pull it off.

        The really worrying thing is that the US government right now feels exactly like Brezhnev-era Russia. Doing things for cult-like reasons, with no attention to whether they actually work or not. Failing repeatedly. Expanding the bureaucracy while doing the above.

  5. Susan the other

    Hello Marx. Speculating still about a necessary destruction of the employee relationship? Watch out because you are going to be end-run once again. Our new immigration policy is going to green-card any necessary number of workers and bring them in by the tanker to maintain efficient productivity. Goldman Sachs will prolly house them in abandoned and title-less houses in Phoenix in the summer and Detroit in the winter. And when their work here is done they will be shipped off to the next port/national corporation to labor away. GS – commoditizing labor one tanker at a time.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I thought the basic problem with immigration is that the U.S. is seeing a sharp decline in low wage workers as the U.S. no longer the land of opportunity.

      Congress is reacting to the shortage, but they are so out of touch and deranged they can’t really address the real problem and look for other issues. What I think Congress is really doing is they can’t acknowledge the economy sucks without taking moral responsibility and opening themselves for outside criticism, but they know they need to keep the illegal labor spigots on to prevent labor from organizing. What they are going to do is ease regulations. Of course, no one is going to come if they can’t find jobs which aren’t going to materialize because Congress turned a 20 year process into a 10 year process.

      1. Nathanael

        “I thought the basic problem with immigration is that the U.S. is seeing a sharp decline in low wage workers as the U.S. no longer the land of opportunity.”

        Bingo. Net migration has been FROM the US TO Mexico for quite a few years now.

        The illegal immigration “problem” was solved by making the US a place everyone wants to leave.

        Illegal immigration is the sign of a healthy country. If you don’t have illegal immigration, it means your country sucks.

  6. The Dork of Cork.

    Ireland remains a hinterland for free banking operations.

    When you cannot run oil (capital) through people (banking assets) you drive it into surplus so that “The core” Imperium can remain in physical goods deficit.

    http://irelandafternama.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-flawed-logic-of-the-south-county-dublin-housing-shortage/#comments

    The facts are this.
    Ireland has seen a massive increase in population since 1990 ~ approx 1 million extra bodies.
    This extreme globalist phase sort of worked during boom years when it was a conduit for oil wastage (so as to earn a yield for RBS type free banking operations)

    Ireland is now been driven into surplus so that the UK and other core countries can remain in deficit.
    Yet the apparatus and structure of freedom of movement remains.
    As unlike the 1970s remittances going out are 3 times larger then those coming in so therefore we live in a very different world of post sterling peg times.
    Irelands population is too big if we have to earn our way while the UK remains a dead zone growth wise as it cannot even grow sucking in a 6.9 % real goods trade deficit.

    We have always been a sort of petri dish for these events.
    Be it the post post-Napoleonic depression when many people (banking assets) lost all value.
    20~ years later the system could afford to lose people with no financial value.
    The famine was not really a major financial crisis , that happened 2 decades before baby.

  7. F. Beard

    Hello-oh?

    Common stock as money eliminates the distinction between capitol and labor since workers become co-owners of the business they work for.

    So once again, why do we subsidize debt-money creation and punish Equity money? Cause we’re stupid?

    1. F. Beard

      No, not stupid (perhaps), but caught (literally?) in a devilish trap.

      It’s not inescapable though.

    2. They didn't leave me a choice

      Who are you and what have you done with our beardo!?

      Bro, are you drunk? Off topic AND typing errors, that’s not like you.

      1. F. Beard

        Well, I misspelled “capital” and used the American spelling for “labour.” What else?

        As for off-topic, Marx was all about capital and labour, was he not? Common stock as money eliminates the distinction between the two.

        1. They didn't leave me a choice

          I guess you have something of a point there, but still it just doesn’t seem to fit the actual contents of the article. Now if only common stock prevented genocides and famine…

          1. F. Beard

            but still it just doesn’t seem to fit the actual contents of the article. They didn’t leave me a choice.

            True enough.

            Now if only common stock prevented genocides and famine… They didn’t leave me a choice.

            Well, if the Irish farms had been common stock companies with the farmers as co-owners, would the farmers have voted to export the food they needed to avoid starving?

  8. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps Ireland (and other Euro-periphery nations) could get rid of costly high-tech military procurement and switch to an all-light-infantry land army (which is also the kind that is needed to occupy and pacify a hostile nation, which I suppose is increasingly the situation which will be facing those governments). This would improve the external sector balance (much of this stuff is produced in US or Northern Europe) and the savings could be spent on employing people in other tasks.

    It’s a somewhat cynical idea, but it might be helpful.

  9. Chris Rogers

    Okay, I’ll throw my hat into the ring on this, as a Welshman, I can quite honestly say that the English indifference to the Irish Famine was shameful, driven by notions that it was the fault of the poor themselves, and not the result of a natural calamity, or fact that most of the land was held by a handful of absentee Landlords, many of whom were Protestant’s.

    Further, Ireland had a very large number of MP’s representing the country in the UK parliament, so to blame the resultant deaths and depopulation on the Irish elites itself is beyond belief.

    In my own neck of the woods, Wales, our English Protestant overlords treated my fellow countrymen then with total indifference – luckily, we were not wholly dependent on potatoes for sustenance – that said, the English thought nothing about banning the teaching of my own national language, namely Welsh – a old celtic language dating back to Roman times, has they believed it hindered the Welsh development into a more capitalistic/efficient province of England – this act is usually referred to as the ‘Treachery of the Blue Book’s’ and resulted within one or two generations in the near collapse of Welsh as a viable language.

    Both timelines it must be noted under a time of political flux within Parliament itself as the Whig’s and Tory’s began to give way the the Conservative and Liberal Parties – it was initially Sir Robert Peel’s Tory/Conservative administration that oversaw the disaster of Ireland, Sir Robert Peel being known as Orange Peel in the 1820′s due to his anti-catholisism, followed by a mix of Whig governments following the debacle over the anti-corn laws – essentially the birth of free trade, rather than mercantilism, favoured prior to this timeline, indeed, most of the Irish poor could have been saved had relief been offered and wheat and corn imports from the USA allowed – we also had the workhouse, as a result of whig legislation in the mid 1830′s, which again made being poor effectively a criminal offence.

    Not a wonderful timescale in my Nations long history, and one regretfully, our neoliberals within all major legacy parties are intent on returning us too. A dreadful thought I can tell you.

    1. Nathanael

      The period before Earl Grey and the Great Reform Act was disastrous in many ways, not just for Ireland and Wales, but frankly for England as well.

      Only the Great Reform Act and the rise of the left wing kept England from complete civil war. And it happened at the last possible moment, really.

  10. Wolverine

    ”One of the greatest human catastrophes, the Great Famine, occurred between roughly 1845-1852. ”

    It was Genocide ,not just a human catastrophe.England ruled Ireland .The policies it imposed on the Irish re taxation meant a vast surplus of Irish produced food was exported to pay this tax. Those policies were not implemented in England

    If you label it a famine then logically you must conclude the Jews choked to death from breathing bad air in the concentration camps rather than from any malice on the part of the Germans.

    Nationalism is what saved the Irish nation and whilst emigration continued following Independence, policies were set for Irish people by Irish people .Gradually things improved.

    Today as you point out we go backwards and this has been caused by our loss of economic and monetary sovereignty to the EU.The open borders fiasco enacted by our own rentier class of politicians in concert with the EU means a second genocide of the Irish people is taking place right now,one which accords with the UN definition of same.
    For example 25 % of all births are to foreigners in Ireland .Whilst tens of thousands of Irish emigrate ,they are replaced by more foreigners.Any recent US tourists to Ireland may have wondered what country they were in.

    Nationalism is the only political force that can save Ireland and the other EU countries on the rack ,in my opinion.
    However the powers that be are imposing massive restructuring of the economy, societal organisation and the ethnic composition of the country .They want a compliant population that will service the rentier class and their EU overlords.So far they are succeeding in spectacular fashion.

    1. Chris Rogers

      I’ve never been one for nationalism, and have often discussed with Irish colleagues, or should that be lamented, that Ireland left the Union – this despite the fact that Home Rule was eventually delivered, only to be cut short by the Two Year Rule in the Lords, and outbreak of hostilities in Europe in July/August 1914,

      Indeed, as a Socialist and avid supporter of the UK’s Labour Party, one has often wondered what would have happened to politics in the UK if Ireland’s 80 odd MP’s had stayed – it seems certain many of those seats would have turned to the Labour Party to seek redress and may have saved the entire UK nation from the horror of Conservative and National governments that treated the unemployed with utter contempt during the 1920′s and 1930′s depression/recession.

      However, after nearly 34 years of neoliberal inspired rule from Westminster, I too yearn for a free and independent national state, having given up on the UK’s Labour Party and Westminster to turn back the economic suicide that our masters in London seem hellbent on pursuing.

      Indeed, as with Ireland, I’d like to be shot of NATO, and none too fussed on the EU presently following the awful treatment dished out to Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and by the Troika.

      Anyway, difficult times await, and genuflection on the Celtic Fringe and what may have happened if events had turned out differently always interest me.

      1. Nathanael

        I’ve been wondering when England will decide to secede from Westminster! Empires fall apart from the outside in, but it is quite extraordinary to see that the rot has hit England worse than (for instance) Scotland, and yet there is *no* opposition political party in England, but rather three parties which pursue nearly the same policies. (There is a different party in Scotland, obviously, and it’s winning majorities.)

  11. allcoppedout

    Looking at the ship manifests of food leaving Ireland in the famine more or less says it all. The Enclosures in Scotland were not long before and Scotland had a potato famine too. Bank fraud was also rife. This went on as Britain abolished slavery, though this may have been a bail-out of slave owners. We gave them half the Exchequer whilst killing-off our own in what were genocides.
    The rich are dire. This is the problem or would be if we ordinary mortals were much better. We are the little Englanders (anywhere) who believe parochial rot – like ‘we won WW2 and prevented the Nazis’ – against our likely financing of the weird religious cult of Hitler, 40 million dead in China not long after the real WW2 started there and 90% of the Wehrmacht perishing at Soviet hands.

    Ireland was screwed more recently. The answer is to identify, sequestrate and disperse the rich to unfriendly swamps. They left us the plan.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Never ever underestimate the English Protestant ascendency – the Scots, Irish and Welsh felt its iron heel long before any others the world over, and pushback has proved onerous, my own nation having the lowest wages and amongst the highest levels of poverty in the UK – Thatcher’s trashing of our economy was on par with whats happened in Detroit – we have yet to recover from these assaults against us.

      Hence, as with our Irish friends across the water, and Scot’s in the North, we have much in common, and now a common enemy once more, namely the neoliberal economic ascendency, which is as bad as any of the horrors perpetrated against us in the nineteenth century – not very nice at all I can assure you.

      1. F. Beard

        Never ever underestimate the English Protestant ascendency – Chris Rogers

        The mistake the RCC made was to ban usury without offering an ethical method for capital consolidation in its place. So the English system of credit for usury enabled them to gain economic ascendancy but, of course, at huge social cost.

  12. Magpie

    Congratulations to Nathan C. Tankus, both for having the courage of mentioning the work of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” and for all the research and digging up of details involved (as reflected by the abundant relevant links).

    Frankly, until recently, Naked Capitalism was publishing material of very uneven level: from the most serious authors to absolute quacks.

    I’m glad to see new, young and promising authors replacing the charlatans.

  13. The Dork of Cork.

    OMF makes some very valid points about the upper middle class in Ireland.
    They are generally assholes of the highest order but they are systems managers and not leaders.
    There is in fact no leaders in this country.
    (They reside outside or are at least in the international Irish ether.)
    Its perhaps a consequence of the Jesuit education that they tend to come out of.
    Rugger boys and all that with a very limited perspective on life.

    This guy is perhaps sadly a prime example of this group but makes some valid points.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn4z95YnDRc

    This (modern) class developed in the 50s and indeed before the war so as to kiss the free trade ring.
    All recent efforts have been made to preserve these gains or to be more specific claims but they remain just system managers right to the top of the local Irish food chain which includes the puppet leader.

    The problem for them ?
    They are system managers of a system in failure mode.
    They fail to realize the boys in London will eat them all alive so as to preserve the rent flow to the city despite or indeed because of its inefficiency

    My trip to Derrynane painted a very different picture of this area &others such as Glandore in the late 80s /early 90s.
    Back then a credit boom was in place.
    Those in the know got to drive Mercs and drink wine outside in the sun…now ?
    Now – they are slowly running down their capital claims …..refusing to eat and drink out so that they can continue to drive their Mercs and send their kids to the good schools
    So as to reward these types a credit boom needs to be in place.
    However a credit boom cannot happen.
    As That requires a surplus of energy to waste.

    However these guys & girls will remain on the now dry tit no matter what happens as that is all they know.
    Running down hyperinflated deposits so as to get their kids a good education for the next boom of pointless globalization.
    Many of their kids will be lucky to work in call centers which is becoming a major source of employment in neo -liberal Ireland.
    You see those deregulated utilities need a army of salemen to game people out of their claims.
    London simply needs its rent flows to survive……if that requires a army of “switch” salesmen so be it.

    1. Nathanael

      “There is in fact no leaders in this country.”

      This explains why the leading FOUR political parties in Ireland all rolled over and did what the banksters wanted them to. I found this absolutely astonishing. Even in England, only the top THREE political parties did so, and there was much dissension in the ranks of all three. In places like Greece and Italy and the US and Canada, only the top TWO did so, and in Germany really only the top ONE did so.

      Having the top FOUR political parties all agree on extremely unpopular political policy — and to have no new political party arise — is bizarre in the extreme. But if “there are no leaders in Ireland”, it starts to explain it. Any leader would have seized the populist opportunity, grabbed hold of a minor party, and rocketed to the top. But if you have no leaders at all….

      … anyway, what happened to the likes of Eamon de Valera? Why are there no Irish leaders?

      1. Nathanael

        Oh. Just looked it up and realized that Eamon de Valera was *born in the United States* to a *Cuban mother*.

        How Irish. Not. Might account for his attitude.

        At least Micheal O Coileain (Michael Collins) and most of the other Sinn Fein leaders were Irish by upbringing. Not everyone born in Ireland is unable to be a leader.

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