We owe it to ourselves to oppose a trajectory that will vandalise society

This week I intend voting No in the Fiscal Compact referendum, for reasons largely tangential to the Fiscal Compact itself. I will do so in awareness of the risk there is involved were a majority to do as I will do, and in disagreement with many of the claims made by the No side in the campaign. 

I will vote No to reject the incorporation of stringent fiscal rules into our constitution, not because adherence to fiscal rules is not sensible but because, in our political culture, such adherence will be done at the expense of the lower paid.

I will vote No to register opposition to the European Union elite that in 2008 insisted no bank should fail when the financial crisis broke and then refused to spread the burden of ensuring that.

I will vote No to register opposition to this Fine Gael/Labour government which was elected to office on the promise to reject the policies of the outgoing Fianna Fáil-led government and on the promise that they would secure a write-down of the bank debt. In office, this new government has perpetuated the policies of the former and, according to Enda Kenny, done nothing at all to secure a write-down of the bank debt.

I will vote No to register opposition to the imposition here and throughout Europe of a neoliberal agenda, an agenda that will institutionalise inequalities and social cruelties through permanent supervision of budgetary, economic, labour and competitiveness policies, inevitably, from the perspective of that neoliberal agenda. (By neoliberalism I mean the ideology that ordains free markets must be the primary instrument of economic and social development, markets driven by demand, not need.)

I will vote No in solidarity with peoples throughout Europe who are and have been denied any say in this treaty or any say on the other European treaties, treaties that, in the main, favour rich and powerful elites throughout the union at the expense of the mass of people. 

I will vote No to express indignation with the cavalier disregard of the procedures and protocols of the European Union itself of the sovereignty of its member states, in the conduct of the leaders of the EU institutions and of Germany and France, in their insolence in interfering with the internal affairs of Greece and Italy, in their disregard for “democratic” procedures of the Union - even in the way this Fiscal Treaty came about.

I will vote No to defy the wishes of the German elite, which benefited so spectacularly from the emergence of the Eurozone and now makes modest redistribution of that generated wealth, conditional on adherence to its economic and budgetary diktats, diktats that disadvantage not only the mass of people throughout the rest of Europe but the mass of people in Germany itself.  

I will vote No to give backbone to the government’s dealings with the EU on the promissory notes and the other bank debt.  

Voting No will not cause these iniquitous measures and policies to be reversed, but it will give some solace to others in Europe who are campaigning against these and will register, in the minds of the elite, some appreciation of the hostility of electorates to what they are about.

Yes, there is a risk we will not be funded in 2014 when, almost certainly, we will require a second rescue – I think that risk of not being funded is minimal however, for - at worst - we would get funding in return for voting Yes in a second referendum on the Fiscal Treaty. If we and others throughout Europe are silenced by fear there is no hope.

Yes, there will be austerity anyway, for we have to fix the fiscal hole - this could and should be done by exempting everyone in the third lowest income bracket and concentrating the adjustment on increased income taxes, plus property taxes and water charges (again exempting people in the third lowest income bracket).

We need to work towards a radically different society, where people have some real control over their lives; where inequalities of wealth, income, power, influence, social capital and cultural capital are radically narrowed; where patriarchy is subverted; where respect is accorded to everyone equally, regardless of status, class, sex, wealth or position; where protections for workers are buttressed, not dismembered by “labour market reforms”.

And to achieve that those of us who believe in this kind of society have to win arguments and minds through thoughtful debate, diligent and truthful analysis expressed in accessible forms, devoid of the familiar weary clichés and bombast.

The Maastricht Treaty, the Growth and Stability Pact, the Six-Pack and now the Fiscal Treaty are all obstacles to this kind of society. They must be opposed and the rejection of the Fiscal Treaty is a necessary and crucial part of that opposition. We owe it to ourselves, to future generations and to the peoples of Europe, who are denied a part in this process, to oppose a trajectory that will vandalise society and impoverish lives throughout the Union.


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