The idea of old testament prophecy was to prevent the events predicted. In this spirit, we ex-Green party members offer the following alternative.
Eire ghlas/ Green Ireland founding principles
Eire ghlas attempts to realise the aspiration that the rights of the planet are the rights of the person. Green parties to date have run the risk of forgetting about issues like social justice in their righteous enthusiasm to save the biosphere. While this enthusiasm is not misplaced, there is a fatal flaw in conventional “intrinsic value” Green thought; the person is the culmination of nature, and political parties should never value the rest of nature over the person. The resulting political project, our political project, is a far more interesting one that that of conventional Green thought.
We argue that environmental destruction, which is indeed accelerating at frightening rates, is ultimately the result of centuries'-long attacks at the dignity of the human being, both by forces on the left and on the right. To realise our full humanity in all its physical, biological, social, intellectual and spiritual dimensions, which is the real project of every human life, includes within itself the project of caring for the biosphere of which we are part. Specifically, this project, stated as a political program, is radical enough to dismiss as capitalist propaganda current neoliberal thought, and as socialist propaganda attacks on the post-enlightenment concept of the individual in the name of any kind of forced collectivism including so-called “social partnership”. Social justice, thought of as economic fairness, can be achieved neither by capitalism or its communist mirror-image; it requires the altogether more sophisticated resources of economic game theory, among much else. Environmental costs need to be factored in as concretely as real human effort, as distinct from manipulation of economic indices, in considering any plan of action.
The past dozen years have been glory years for economic neoliberals in Ireland; by the same token, the next 15 will be the opposite. The surrender of control of interest rates, and self-imposition of draconian interpretations of relatively broad EU guidelines like those on competition, effectively created a property bubble, and deprived the state of the economic autonomy that Arthur Griffith so stressed. Emboldened by their empowerment due to these circumstances, neoliberals undertook a project of running down and privatising many state services that had taken generations of dedicated work to build up. The resulting mess has produced the most privately indebted country in the world per head of real income, and a thoroughly disempowered younger generation. At the height of this period, with extraordinary rendition/torture flights being allowed in Shannon, the FF/PD government attempted to impose the same kind of e-voting system that has been discredited and abandoned in the US. That was Ireland's moral nadir, and fortunately we stopped them
In the meantime, the official “Green” party has expressed a willingness to negotiate for a place in government with this thoroughly criminal government. For this reason alone, it would be imperative to form an alternative green party; however, there are many more positive reasons that we will now see.
EG believes that the sterling work of the Irish people in achieving an agreed-upon written constitution needs to be responded to in our generation with equal vision and courage. It believes that the following changes need to be made;
1.Deletion of the theocratic prologue in favour of a secular statement like that with which the Indian constitution opens
2 Addition of an amendment like the first amendment in the US which, by protecting religions from
the state, has also protected the state from religion. If necessary, the existence of individual conscience as the moral unit of the state needs to be stated explicitly.
3 Deletion of all other sectarian and sexist implications of the 1937 constitution
The People and its Territory
It is a historical fact that a terrorist campaign in the name of a united Ireland paradoxically led to the Irish state's dropping its claim on the north-eastern part of the island. The history of British colonisation and indeed genocide in Ireland, and the inspiration Ireland's revolts gave to other colonies, are similarly historical facts. While a united Ireland should remain an aspiration, the GFA has provided peace, and an altogether more interesting project is possible. One of our nobel laureates, John Hume, suggested that the 100 million or so people worldwide of irish ancestry should be offered nationality, if not citizenship.
State and civil society
The incursions by the state into civil society culminated in deepening of employer/union “partnerships” which resulted in a de facto loss of the right to withhold labour, to get reinstated once fired, and indeed to form trade unions in the public service (since the state insisted that you join one of its choice as a condition of employment). Simultaneously, membership of unions in the private sector is vanishing. This is one area that the state should withdraw from.
The experience of Ireland as an independent state indicates that the state can run a rudimentary health service, schools up to but not including third level (where its institutions need private competition), an airline, and a telecommunications network, inter alia. Its incursions into the music business and indeed the arts in general, software and most of science, and much else have had the sole effect of providing subsidised competition for altogether more talented individuals. All this needs to be rectified.
It looks rather as though the forthcoming crisis in the irish banking sector will demand state intervention; a de facto nationalisation of the banks by issuing Irish banking bonds. In this eventuality, a full-scale nationalisation will have happened, and must be adjusted in favour of the people and against the incompetent and immoral bank management.
Ireland must be prepared to regain control of its destiny, even if this means renegotiating the terms of its membership in the EU, WTO, and so on. For example, an average house should cost at most double one's income, and the mortgage should last at most 20 years. In a state that has borrowed $100 billion or so from foreign banks since 2003, this state of affairs will not be achieved without pain.
Environmental costs must be factored into every activity monitored by the state. Corporate enforcement must rise to the level of the US; this in itself will release massive energy from individual entrepreneurs who have been struggling under the crony capitalism that weighed on recent Irish public life, and destroyed countless businesses
Finally, it is taken as self-evident that the state should aspire to social justice, indeed equality of opportunity, for all its citizens.
We still have a relatively pristine environment, be this due to penury and genocide rather than ethics. The mindset that would damage the hill of Tara needs to be expunged. Rigorous claims should be enforced on all our assets from predators, both from without and within. With this, an emphasis on Irish culture and its unbroken history for thousands of years needs to complement our experience of our beautiful country.