After the economic crash, which is well underway, some political and cultural space will paradoxically open up. In general, Ireland tends to be more interesting and diverse when it functions beneath the radar of international capitalism.
One issue to be cleared up; was there ever a real boom? The answer is; probably not. By 1997, serious cutbacks in the health and social services coupled with some genuinely clever initiatives coming from civil society had engineered a situation wherein there was a current accounts surplus and a low cost base for business. It was time to build on one's strengths in the manner of Finland/nokia and Sweden/various. Instead what happened was a property bubble, and an attempt by the government to dominate sectors like software (Medialab) and the music business (IMRO) with disastrous results. The current generation in power have spent their children's and indeed grandchildren's money.
Genuine chaos is about to descend. The sub-prime mortgage area is about to hit the US economy, where leverage is much less than Ireland, which will therefore suffer more. The good news is that there will have to be a re-emphasis on cultural belonging, if only because there will be nowhere else to go. While this is going on, we should think about rebuilding as before, but ring-fencing off the possibility of another property bubble, or further incursion by the state into civil society. The end of social partnership with its danger of corporatism will also be a good thing.
It may be necessary to renegotiate terms of EU and WTO membership, particularly when the IMF “rescue” plan is announced. At a guess, the great majority of the readership here is under 30. How do you see the future?