Thursday, 11 June 2009

Climbing out of the Abyss

Slí Eile: Have ‘non-economists’ anything to contribute on how we climb out of this abyss?

In a series entitled ‘Re-imagining the Future’ the Irish Times has begun a series on how creative thinking can offer a way forward as some artists and writers talk ‘about where we’re at and how we can move on’. In today’s piece, Booker Prize- winning novelist and writer, Anne Enright is quoted as follows:If you look at a model of how to do that, the people that have been most successful in doing that are the Scandinavians, and their high-tax economies, the opposite of the road we took in terms of looking after each other. And they’re very good at it . . . It’s a real pity this crash has happened now, because, if it hadn’t, in 100 years’ time we might be really mature, comfortably bourgeois with Scandinavian communal systems, lots of good affordable creches.

What do PE readers think? May be the impetus towards a new social deal arises from the failure of the present one to deliver an adequate quality of life to many or most people.

1 comment:

Tomaltach said...

I think we often under-estimate how cultural norms and values bulk large in the way society operates. We often focus on the architecture of our political system, the power of vested interests, the vagaries of globalisation. All of these are real, but much of what you call the 'social deal' is heavily dependent on cultural properties. The institutional abuse didn't happen merely because we had a powerful church and a weak state. Or rather, it did, but why was the church so powerful, and why the state so weak? In Ireland there has always been a laid back attitude to the law. Stand outside any village tavern at 3am and listen! We all know the whole culture of wink and nod, the who you know not what you know. The special pleading. Or how strict scandanavian-like notions of integrity in Ireland dissolve into the soft glow of personal touch, stroke favour. In strict political terms these little weaknesses can be a terrible handicap. But in other aspects they are reflected in a more charming way - and I think it's fair to say that the laid back nature of Irish leaves it a much easier place to fit in. Even still, tourists and immigrants alike are more likely to talk about our warmth than our selfishness. Statistics would seem to bear this out. And some component in our small-town, small country attitude gives us something that seems to operate well in diplomacy. Our diplomatic bang for the buck in the Eu is widely recognised. We do often punch above our weight. But then again, we have a terrible habit among ourselves of letting ourselves down, of not being able to construct a vision of our future and of not being able to commit - at the level of the nation as opposed to the community - to a vision of fairness and opportunity for all. Slí, you've opened up a big subject....!!