I was asked for my thoughts on the Irish times article and Brian Cowen's address in March 2012. The links to both article and lecture are below, I forgot to post it a few months ago and just found it on my desktop yesterday.
My feelings are as follows. Cowen's lecture (The Euro: From Crisis to Resolution? Some Reflections from Ireland on the Road Thus Far) failed to address the collective greed that ensued from the release of lorry loads of cheap money. It failed to address the morality of the orgy of destruction that this created. It failed to address the recklessness that inevitably resulted in the annihilation of many of the people's economies of Europe. It protected bond holders and investors and a failed banking system, but never addressed the disintegration of people's trust and belief in a way of life. It was certainly a good pitch for confidence building for potential investors or anyone who wishes to re-friend us. It gives us no way forward in relation to the issues we face in our local economy. What's interesting about it is that it’s coming from Brian Cowen as a person and I would have liked to have seen more of that. It needs more of the human being than the human doing. It is that ingredient that is going to unite us in pursuit of a common goal that will eventually lead to a much more considered, meaningful and productive society that cares about its future. We need to apply the same logic that we are applying to sustainability and global warming. We need to be alarmed at the state that banking and the State systems got us into and the fact that we allowed it. It fails to engage with consequences for those who may have done wrong or broken the law and it never asks where did all the money go? If all the money that was borrowed is now to be paid back, where does it go? Who holds it? And what are we to do, are we to simply shiver and starve? Politicians have a duty to stand up to private banking and to ensure that the great humanitarian experiment isn't enslaved to private bankers and their ilk who are hell-bent on a privatised world. We will be paying our way out of this for generations to come and I believe that there is greater hardship yet to befall us, but the burden should be carried equally. This is not about money; it’s about not living in misery because of indifference of cold capitalism. Wake up to the fact that capitalism is now eating the capitalists and devouring banking systems and economies. The voice of humanity was lacking in Mr Cowen's speech and it smacked very much of the kind of after-dinner warm endorsement and comfortable view of the crisis that we're in. No one is blaming. Blame gets us nowhere. Responsibility and accountability are what's needed here and, let’s call a spade a spade, somebody made billions, if not trillions out of the sinking of economies. We have to ensure that this never happens again. Cowen is right when he talks about 'not since the 1930’s great depression', but this is even bigger and has even greater consequences for people. The best thing Brian Cowen could do would be to stop making speeches, roll his sleeves up and get back into action and work alongside us in this new struggle. Somewhere along the line, the middle classes are going to implode and all that politeness that hides deep resentment and pent up anger will come gushing out and will threaten the very system that this whole circus was based on. The working classes have never been given the opportunity to progress and seem to be landlocked in a deliberate co-dependency that was set up by the State. Not everyone will find a job in Google, or Facebook or the IT sector. There won't be a great windfall of jobs. This whole process will take years of rehabilitation and recovery which will hopefully lead to Ireland and its people waking up.
We were asleep, in a trusting childlike fashion and we woke up to a real nightmare that threatens everything we thought we stood for, everything we thought was good.
So Mr Cowen didn't give a 'State of the Nation' address, because he didn't address the people. He gave us an analysis from his point of view, from his personal look-back and I commend him for this courage and his taking of personal responsibility. I hope it gives him the confidence to go further because it’s the experience of failure, owned and acknowledged that give us the courage to make great progress on the road to recovery and to honest constitution.
So, let’s look forward, rather than staring backwards. It’s us, Irish people, that need to collectively make this journey with or without our leaders.
Link to Brian Cowens address in Georgia, Washington State March 21st 2012
The Euro: From Crisis to Resolution? Some Reflections from Ireland on the Road Thus Far
Irish Times article response to Cowens address by DEAGLÁN DE BRÉADÚN