The bigger questions need more attention

THE disenchantment with conventional politics and the sense of betrayal felt by millions of people around the world towards today’s almost uncontrollable — and certainly less socially conscientious — capitalism has manifested itself in many ways. The dread prospect of President Trump is one. 

That growing, festering disenchantment with the conventional way of doing things influenced Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. It is manifest too in our fractious, divided and stymied Dáil.

Globalisation, and especially the relocation of once- cherished jobs to far-away economies with lower production costs, exacerbates the problem and the sense of being abandoned felt by sections of societies. The post-collapse imposition of multibillion-euro private bank debt on the public purse, a rescue unimaginable to the millions around the world struggling with their own debt, was and continues to be, a chilling indication of where the real power lies.

The changing perception of the EU contributes to gnawing uncertainty too. Once seen as a positive force for social good, the union’s capacity to represent, or champion, the best interests of all Europeans is being questioned as never before. The EU’s stability and the certainty it once offered has dissipated and unless it reimagines itself through profound reform and a renewed common purpose it is hard to imagine that its moral purpose or authority can be fully recovered. The ongoing vulnerability of the euro adds to that pessimism. Tragically, this point has been reached at the very moment when transnational solidarity was never more important.

The great humanitarian and political challenges posed by what seems an unending flow of refugees to continental Europe adds to instability, a position happily exploited by malign political and religious forces inside and outside Europe. The enthusiasm shown by multinational corporations to use every opportunity to reduce tax bills to unsustainable and occasionally immorally low levels is just another factor as is the reluctance of some governments or societies to show the confidence needed to confront these abuses. The reluctance of industries, especially agriculture, to embrace real change to try to stall climate change adds to this dismay.

These great tides surge and create indecision, insecurity and occasionally dangerous insularity and will do so until common goals can be agreed between governments. How likely is that when ambitions are so diverse? However, we can learn lessons from this unhappy cacophony.

Unless real issues are matched with real solutions things may get worse before they get better — and it is not as if we don’t have enough challenges. We have a housing crisis, the darkening cloud of Brexit, a bus strike that is a symptom of the disenfranchisement of many employees, a looming pension crisis, strengthening delusion around water. The list goes. The questions around Nama’s Project Eagle may or may not be answered satisfactorily but it is certain that the great energy and outrage the episode has attracted could be better used elsewhere.


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