In recent weeks we have seen a clear demonstration of exactly who runs the economy, and consequently our lives: it’s big business, multi-nationals and global conglomerates – not governments.
When the ‘markets’ decided that a recent budget posed a threat to their profits, they effectively pulled the economic plug and dictated how taxes, public spending and wages should be skewed in their favour.
Again and again
That is a scenario that has been recited repeatedly. Governments can say and do what they want – but the markets, the multi-nationals and the big financial institutions will ultimately dictate policy and how our lives are lived. They will recover their losses at out expense, they will enforce austerity, demand that public spending is cut, that services are privatised and that working people bail them out when their fundamentally flawed economics once again hit the rocks.
A blind man on a galloping horse could see that tinkering, negotiating or pandering to capitalism is as pointless as it is futile. That same man on that same horse can also see the impotent and diversionary nature of our local identity politics.
How comforting must it be to those who sponge off the backs of working people to know that everything here is seen in terms of Orange and Green, that flags, symbols and culture wars are promoted as more important than jobs, education, public services, opportunity and a quality of life. How re-assuring must it be for all the main political; parties that the Northern Ireland electorate, the local media and almost every civic institution is happy to go along with that, repeat it and re-enforce it?
The current cost of living crisis provides us with only the latest example – if any of us care to look – of the self preserving powers of the economic elite. Profits continue to rise, the markets have been made safe for good returns in investment and all the while children go hungry, homes go unheated and human potential is devalued and wasted.
It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.
Thousands of working people across almost every sector of employment have been forced into taking industrial action in defence of decent wages, workplace rights and safer and accessible public services.
The market economy has flexed its muscles. Working people must demonstrate the overwhelming power of unity and solidarity that only the working class movement can muster.
It is time to call time on the anonymous and faceless financial institutions that dictate and direct our lives and time also to call time on their self serving sectarian subalterns in Stormont and elsewhere.