March 2012        

People should be wary of learned “experts”

In recent years we have witnessed a plethora of organisations springing up to provide “independent” advice and information or to campaign on behalf of the marginalised, the “community sector” or just Joe or Mary Citizen against the faceless bureaucracy of state institutions. They include such organisations as Claiming Our Future, Is Féidir Linn, We, the Citizens, and most recently the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, established at the end of 2011. All appear to have received substantial funds from Atlantic Philanthropies.
     The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council is chaired by a senior fellow of UCD. According to press reports, its goals are the following: “In our work programme for 2012, the focus will be on better understanding the choices we face as regards government income and expenditure, and their implications. We will pay specific attention to: The distributional implications of budgetary policy; The budget and the quarterly troika reviews; Water pricing and property taxes; Pension reform; Governance.”
     All want to represent the citizen and give the impression of independence, because they are not directly funded by the state and so are not tainted by association with any of the establishment political parties or institutions. They hope, therefore, that their policy positions and ideas will be given greater weight by those searching for some understanding of what’s happening to them as individuals, to their families and their communities.
     But in reality they are part of the system, attempting to corral people’s aspirations into safe, non-challenging demands. Some are just refugees from social democracy, disgruntled members of the Labour Party pretending to be outside the official tent when in reality they carry the drinks around to those sitting at the table.
     A struggle is taking place for the hearts and minds of our people and about the nature of the demands they should be struggling for. None of these bodies has any critical views on the most pressing issue facing our people: the odious and anti-people debt. They have no view on the anti-democratic role of the external troika that controls our people’s destiny. They have nothing critical to say about the European Union. They want to present better, fairer cuts, not the demand that cuts are unnecessary.
     While the state wages class war in the interests of the dominant economic and political forces in this country and on behalf of the EU, an ideological struggle is also being waged against the people. It is concerned with manufacturing the consent of the people, to accept that there is no alternative to the present system, that all we can hope for is a fairer, better capitalism when we have sorted out the mess created by stupid corrupt politicians. They are misleading people, leading them away from a deeper look at the nature of the system and the fact that the problems people experience daily are the direct consequences of the system itself.
     People should be wary of “experts” and well-heeled professional lobbyists offering solutions that are intended to maintain privilege and exploitation.

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