Monday, 13 August 2012

Nat O'Connor: Three German economists and philosophers (Peter Bofinger, Juergen Habermas and Julian Nida-Ruemelin) have released a major statement to pursuade Germans (and Europeans) to consider the case for closer European political and economic integration. They call for a German constitutional convention to have an open public debate on the future of Europe and of Germany's place in it.

Given that Ireland is President of the EU next year and also having our own Constitutional Convention, it would be apt for us to have a similar national debate here on our vision for the EU and Ireland's place in Europe.


Paul Hunt said...

I fully agree with these authors' view that there is a "need to curb the evil practices of the shadowy parallel universe that the investment banks and hedge funds have built up alongside the real economy of goods
and services." And that "[t}his requires our politicians to get a grip and take control again."

But, unfortunately - and it is all too common - they advance this false dichotomy between "a citizens’ democracy built on the
idea of the social state" and, what they consider is currently in place - "a sham democracy governed by market principles".

It is perfectly possible to have economies via the application of market principles generating propserity and general well-being with the state using its democratic legitimacy to govern these markets and to preserve the 'social state'.

The issue is that there are numerous voters in the centre of the political spectrum who have actually experienced economies working in the manner in the past and require their governing politicians to restore this functioning. And they reject the false dichotomy being presented by the left - and are increasingly repelled by the antics of the left advancing raid, tax and spend policies and seeking to preserve the rent-seeking of many who use the left as a flag of convenience.

While these voters are being driven towards the current centre-right hegemony there is no possibility of building the progressive, liberal, social democratic coalition that is required.

It is extremely unlikely that a debate will take place in Germany that might facilitate the emergence of such a coalition. In any event, the real problem is not the Basic Law democratic legitomacy restrictions on Germany (even if they restrict the room for manoeuvre); it is the failure of effective democratic governance in the southern and western periphery.

And as for having such a debate in ireland, you must be joking.

Ernie Ball said...

Paul Hunt: you are henceforth forbidden to use the phrases "raid, tax and spend" and the word "reform."

There. That ought to shut you up.

Paul Hunt said...

Thank you, Ernie. Seeking to ignore or refusing to engage with a critique are standard practices here. As are cunning attempts to deflect, distort or evade the thrust of a critique. All provide some evidence - and some comfort to me - that I'm not too far off the right track. Your injunction provides considerable additional evidence that I'm getting very close to the mark. Thank you so much.

History abounds with examples of situations where efforts are made to silence those who speak some truths that discomfit those seeking to protect the enjoyment of certain powers, influence and privileges. And the desire to silence critics is inversely proportional to the meagre extent of the power, influence and privilege that are being protected. It was probably best captured by Henry Kissinger, in a slightly different, but, perhaps, not unrelated, context, when he observed that academic politics is so vicious because the prizes are so small.

I am both honoured and greatly encouraged to be the object of your injunction. And being injuncted pseudonomously greatly adds to the honour and encouragement.

Ernie Ball said...

Don't flatter yourself into thinking that cutting and pasting the same boilerplate into every tiresome response amounts to some sort of "critique" or that you are somehow speaking truth to power.

Paul Hunt said...

Oh, Ernie! You are perfectly free to engage and to seek to refute the case I am advancing which has numerous strands. My ideas have been refined and developed - and some discarded - (and continue to be refined and developed) via engagement with many people - both here and internationally.

But you obviously prefer to sneer at, to dismiss, to denigrate and to silence any positions advanced that might contest your very particular view of the world.

It is behaviour that is more commonly found on the left than it is on the right or centre and it goes a long way to explain why the dissection and parsing of out-dated left-wing ideology is such a minority sport in Ireland and elsewhere and why a left-wing progressive stance is almost certain never to secure the level of popular consent that will provide a basis for governance.

Paul Hunt said...

Just as a general observation on Ernie's sour comment, it's quite remarkable, but, perhaps, not surprising that the rent-seekers on the left and the right seem to have made implicit common cause - an unholy alliance - to defend their interests. The Government is structured and operates to horse-trade on their behalf. Those who are impoverished by the rent-seekers' behaviour, or whose interests are damaged, are spread across the political divide and find it difficult to express and advance their common interests against the rent-seekers. And, of course, the rent-seekers are adept at divide and conquer.

The rent-seekers should enjoy their ill-gotten gains, because I can't see it lasting. Until then.

Ernie Ball said...

Good luck with the Asperger's, Paul.

Paul Hunt said...

Thanks, Ernie. You seem to capture so eloquently, so pithily and so sourly the knee-jerk reaction of those on the left to any critique. I hope you and your other colleagues on the left will continue to enjoy playing in your own little sand-pit here.