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  1. #1
    Big Bobo Big Bobo is offline
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    Capitalism and the Irish famine

    When you ask an ordinary person what the cause of the Irish famine was they will most likely say it was a failure of the potato crop. This is only partly true. The most important questions to ask is why were millions depending on a crop that was not even indigineous to Ireland? And why were the landowners exporting vast amounts of pork, beef and grain when the people were starving?

    Ireland in fact produced enough food to feed 18 million people during the 1840s. However the market dictated that that the supply went where there was "demand". When capitalists harp on about supply and "demand", demand only includes those with money. The poor all over the world have many demands and needs but these will always be ignored by the capitalists.

    The role of the state under capitalism is to protect private property. That is why the police and army protected the landlords and hung or deported those who tried to "steal" food. The fact is the only thieves were the landlords themselves. The capitalist robber baron will always use coercive methods to dispossess the people and then create laws to legalise their theft.

    What Ireland needed in the 1840s was a mass revolution which placed the people in control of the lands. A planned economy could then be formed to produce according to people's needs and not for profit.

    It is disgraceful that the history books are constantly being re-written so that capitalism and the capitalist state seem blameless. The revisionists wish us to believe that this was just an accident or an unavoidable tragedy. Maybe the capitalist "historians" will acknowledge the state could have done more to provide relief but that is all. It is inconvienient for the capitalists to acknowledge that the "free market" is the main cause of the saddest and most shameful part of irish history. That is why they will blame the potato. As George Orwell wrote "Those who control the present control the past".

    It is also interesting to note that famines in non-capitalist countries are played up for the purposes of propaganda. Take the famine in China circa 1960 which is the greatest famine in history (although proportionately was not as bad as the Irish famine). This famine is exploited by capitalist historians for ideological reasons. While this famine was partly due to bad planning and naive farming practices enforced by the Party, the severe weather that destroyed many crop harvests are never reported by the capitalist historians.

    Famines in capitalist countries are caused by natural disasters, famines in "communist" countries are caused by political theory.
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  2. #2
    Alfred E. Neuman Alfred E. Neuman is offline

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    Very true. "The Great Hunger" by Cecil Woodham-Smith gives a succint account the capitalist mentality of the business classes throughout this period of Irish history.
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  3. #3
    seabhcan seabhcan is online now
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    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Late-Victorian-Holocausts-Famines-Making/dp/1859843824]Amazon.com: Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World: Mike Davis: Books[/ame]

    This is a book on a series of identical famines in India.
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  4. #4
    JCSkinner JCSkinner is offline

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    It was a genocide, not a famine. There was no shortage of food.
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  5. #5
    Retrolives Retrolives is offline

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    The Irish Famine was a direct result of crippling government intervention, taxes and infringements on private property rights. Have you ever heard of the Penal Laws? Private property rights were hardly recognised by the courts. Ever heard of the Corn Laws? Taxes were actually increased on the productive people during the famine! Try reading this article for some economics and truth about that dreadful period in our history
    What Caused the Irish Potato Famine? - Mark Thornton - Mises Institute
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  6. #6
    Mazzy Maz Mazzy Maz is offline

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    Great OP.

    Our own contemporary revisionists would have us believe that our current economic woes are down to the actions of a few overly greedy bankers and the system itself is sound. In the 80's they told us that greed is good, now they're telling us that greed is not intrinsic to capitalism and that it would actually function better with a little less of it! laughable.

    This has all happened before and it will happen again. Who will we scapegoat next time? Patato blight? Greedy bankers? The public service? The government? Anything but the system upon which the wealthiest rely.

    It'll be interesting to see what kind of alternatives we come up with once there is mass acceptance that it is the system that needs changing.
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  7. #7
    Big Bobo Big Bobo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    Looks interesting. The British always reffered to India as "The jewel in the crown". This is because it was there most profitable colony. The purpose of any colony is to make money for the capitalists of the mother country but the British really took the biscuit. By the start of WW2 Britain was taking £250,000,000 out of India (no idea how much in today's money) through pillaging and slave labour.
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  8. #8
    Big Bobo Big Bobo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retrolives View Post
    The Irish Famine was a direct result of crippling government intervention, taxes and infringements on private property rights. Have you ever heard of the Penal Laws? Private property rights were hardly recognised by the courts. Ever heard of the Corn Laws? Taxes were actually increased on the productive people during the famine! Try reading this article for some economics and truth about that dreadful period in our history
    What Caused the Irish Potato Famine? - Mark Thornton - Mises Institute
    Only a Ron Paul nut could make a case for the free market not being extensive enough during the famine. The capitalist will always lie, cheat, steal and oppress to make more money. Why would capitalists want more rights for the Irish?
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  9. #9
    sandar sandar is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Bobo View Post
    Only a Ron Paul nut could make a case for the free market not being extensive enough during the famine. The capitalist will always lie, cheat, steal and oppress to make more money. Why would capitalists want more rights for the Irish?
    No thats where your wrong Bobo, you are ewquating the existence of the profit motive wioth the existence of a capitlaist society. Marx did not to that?( he would have termed 1840's Ireland as a society at the feudal stage of development rather than the capitlits stage of development and they are very different) food was exported to britian on the orders of the british government regardless of what demand was like in ireland, selling that food in ireland would have generated more profit for capitalists, as their costs would have been lower and indeed more profits for the capitlalists in britian who xould have gotten much higher prices for british potatoes, your OP is attacking the profit motive not capitalism.
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  10. #10
    Big Bobo Big Bobo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandar View Post
    No thats where your wrong Bobo, you are ewquating the existence of the profit motive wioth the existence of a capitlaist society. Marx did not to that?( he would have termed 1840's Ireland as a society at the feudal stage of development rather than the capitlits stage of development and they are very different) food was exported to britian on the orders of the british government regardless of what demand was like in ireland, selling that food in ireland would have generated more profit for capitalists, as their costs would have been lower and indeed more profits for the capitlalists in britian who xould have gotten much higher prices for british potatoes, your OP is attacking the profit motive not capitalism.
    That makes absolutely no sense. Every bit of it is wrong.
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