Neo-liberalism and Its Discontents

Sir, – A number of your recent articles and reports, including pieces by Paul Gillespie, Arthur Beesley, Breda O’Brien and Dick Alhstrom, collectively paint a picture of an insidious and profound cultural shift.

Thomas Piketty's landmark book Capital in the Twenty-First Century identifies how public wealth is being systematically transferred into the hands of the super-rich, who have effectively usurped democracy and captured the political process. Consequently, any additional revenue generated by Ireland's current economic upturn cannot be deployed to support decimated public services, but must be funnelled up into the Great Casino of the financial markets to be gambled away.

The dependence of universities on corporate patronage means education has become more about product development and marketable skills than independent research or critical reflection. The humanities are being downgraded and history removed as a core subject, inducing a cultural amnesia that leaves our young people more susceptible to manipulation and demagoguery. Their labour is already shamelessly exploited through unpaid internships and low-paid “employment schemes”.

Workers’ rights are being eroded as big business demands a flexible, cheap workforce. It would appear that as a nation, we are sleepwalking our way into a thinly disguised slave camp, run by, and for, the wealthiest people in the world.


Domestic economies and their workers were traditionally insulated from the vagaries of global markets by socio-fiscal protections such as those embedded in the Glass-Steagall Act, FDR’s New Deal and Europe’s postwar social democratic “mixed economy”. The inexorable dismantling of these safeguards has left us at the mercy of a heartless, predatory, economic system which operates transnationally without regulation, cynically plundering economies, national currencies and natural resources for short-term gain.

President Higgins is one of the few public figures prepared to call it like it is. Politicians worldwide need to come together to face down this new, global, neo-liberal hegemony, to insist that public services, workers’ rights and domestic sovereignty be ring-fenced and protected and that international financial and corporate regulation be reinstated. To Capitalism Sans Frontières, we must say No. Yours, etc,



Dublin 6