2023: Socialism is the Answer to a World in Crisis
A year ago, we were told that rising prices were a temporary phenomenon. There was no need to worry and workers should not press for higher pay. Today that fairy story has disappeared as inflation remains at 9%. The government has given some temporary reliefs but they are not enough – and they will not last. The only capitalist solution is to trigger a recession. Since the crash of 2008 central banks have been printing money to prop up the system. But that era ended as interest rates are driven up. Job losses and unemployment will be the fate of many as the elite try to manage their system.
In Glasgow, in November 2021, we were told that a serious effort was being made to keep climate change below a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the bla, bla, bla rhetoric stands in sharp contrast to reality. This year 633 fossil fuel lobbyists attended the COP27 event in Egypt. Instead of a move away from coal, new mines are being opened. Gas is being reclassified as green fuel. No wonder that scientists predict there is now a 50:50 chance of hitting 1.5 degrees this year or next.
Reproductive rights have undergone serious attack in 2022, with the clearest example being the overturning of Roe v Wade in the USA. Of course, closer to home, access to abortion remains restricted in the North, while there is much unfinished business to be done to ensure the mandate of Repeal is put into practice. The Right are also on the attack when it comes to trans rights with some sections of the Irish establishment disgracefully seeking to stoke a ‘culture wars’ style attack on our trans community.
In February, Putin began a brutal invasion of Ukraine. His occupation has now turned into a bloody war between the imperialist blocs of NATO versus Russia and its allies. Between 24 January and 3rd of October, $94 billion in aid had been sent by Western countries to Ukraine. Then in November, Biden pledged another $15 billion. The result of this military intervention has been wholescale killings of working class young men in both Ukraine and Russia. Yet Oxfam has calculated that if €37 billion was made available each year until 2030, we could go a long way to end world hunger.
Faced with these horrors, the question is what can we do?
No one will claim that we can change the world in the morning. But we can take serious steps here in Ireland to help contribute to a global momentum for change.
Despite its apparent economic success, Ireland is suffering from the same neoliberal policies that have created a global crises. We have the worst housing situation since the foundation of the state. Our hospitals are so over-run that deals are done with private hospitals at great cost to the public purse. These problems are a direct result of right wing policies, championed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They do not look after the people – but their own class of privileged landlords, bankers and the corporate elite.
We need to get rid of them – and bring in Ireland’s first left wing government. And not just one in name only, but one that will end poverty, provide decent social services that meet people’s needs and confront the rich and privileged. As Sinn Féin move increasingly to the centre to appease this class, People Before Profit takes a different stance. We will continue to work with Sinn Féin in protests over housing and the cost of living. But we openly say we have different goals. Our aim is to take the fight to the rich, to play our part in creating an alternative to the madness that capitalism is imposing on our planet.
It is not only Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who find themselves in a precarious position. Look no further than the DUP, which faces constant criticism over its self-serving boycott of the Assembly. Its divisive grandstanding over the Protocol – aimed at winning back votes – is just the latest outworking of a potentially terminal political crisis facing unionism. Unable to win votes outside its narrow (and narrowing) support base, the DUP is more likely to bunker down than to share power with an ascendent nationalism.
Judged in comparison with the DUP, establishment parties at Stormont have largely escaped individual reproval, insisting that a restored Assembly will cure the North’s financial and social ills. These claims increasingly ring hollow when expounded by parties who presided over years of cuts, welfare reforms, and attacks on the vulnerable.
Despite the burdens they bear, working class communities across the North have reason to be hopeful. Emerging strikes, protests, and demonstrations are the green shoots of a resistance to the existing economic and social order. Coordinated strike actions and public mobilisations can strengthen their hand and make for a brighter 2023. Success is not guaranteed, but People Before Profit will bend every sinew in rallying people for that fight.
There is, however, one dark cloud on the horizon. The upsurge of racism and far right ideas which has plagued the European continent has reached Ireland. The usual tropes about ‘unvetted males’ (of colour) being a threat to ‘our women’ are being peddled by the tiny forces of the Irish far right. They have been singularly absent from any campaign against domestic violence. Their ultimate agenda is to return this country to the era of Catholic fundamentalism to make it safer for their crony friends in big business. In 2023, People Before Profit will be to the fore in challenging these pretenders.
Against the madness of capitalism, our vision is one of hope. We can solve the latest health care crisis by taking private hospitals into public ownership and investing properly in preventative medicine. We can solve the housing crisis by imposing real rent controls, and using public land for social and affordable housing. We can stop inflation and recession by tackling its root cause – the permanent greed for profit. Ecosocialism is the answer to a world in crisis.
As James Connolly once said, the opportunities are there for those who seize them. If you agree, get involved by joining People Before Profit.