Neoliberal consensus strikes again

In yesterday’s Irish Times there was a review of a report by 17 leading business and public figures. The report, entitled ‘Blueprint for Ireland’s recovery’, claims that Ireland must become the most competitive euro zone country by 2016.

In what has become a familiar argument the report proposes that every Government department should have an advisory board from outside the public service to work with the minister, and a council of economic advisers, drawn mostly from the ranks of expert business leaders.

Included in the report’s proposals is the recommendation that the third level sector be rationalised. This is to ensure that Ireland has a single university of world standing.

One of the contributors is Dermot Desmond. This comes after his ‘manifesto’ on political reform. With such weak and ineffective political leadership it is n surprise that such successful ‘captains of industry’ get their say aired in our national media. More troubling is the ‘common sense’ that their arguments appeal to. When the only consensus is on the needs and demands of the economy it is not impossible to imagine that their nightmare vision will be realised. Ireland has no alternative: having exposed ourselves to the worst excesses of neoliberalism  it seems we must continue down that path in order to save ourselves. They end the report with the claim that ‘without a thriving economy it is impossible for Ireland to create an equal and fair society.’

Unless we start demonstrating alternatives to this empty idea of the public good we will find this kind of opinion gaining more and more ground.