Ghostlands (english) Robert Allen 3:35pm Tue Apr 30 '02 article#177358 ---------------------- THE FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL (english) BILL 12:53am Tue Apr 30 '02 (Modified on 5:49am Tue Apr 30 '02) article#177219 -------------------------- "Le Pen's triumph based on electoral flaws:Abstainers, system, not Le Pen blame" (english) David R. Sands 9:34pm Wed May 1 '02 article#177627 ---------------------- 1774690 GEORGE MONBIOT: HOW TO FIX GLOBALIZATION ------------------------------------------------ Ghostlands (english) Robert Allen 3:35pm Tue Apr 30 '02 article#177358 The culture that is dying in modern Ireland "Warriors, this land will be yours forever." - Erui It was a sunny Sunday afternoon on the edge of the world. Two young men sat in a small boat, their drift net cast lazily on the ocean. One of the men, an American born, Cambridge educated farmer called John O'Leary, was telling the other, a Garnish born trawlerman named Michael 'Mitey' McNally, a story about a 6th century monk and the small twin peaked rock that interrupted their view of a seamless blue horizon. The rock, a 700 foot high monument of nature, is called Skellig Michael - the largest of a group of rocks known as the Skelligs 18 miles off the coast of south-west Ireland. The story John told - how a Celtic monk who lived on the rock brought his life's work, the writings of Christian civilization, to Byzantium - was new to Michael, but it energized his sense of place and gave him hope. If a monk isolated on this lonely pinnacle of rock could, in the words of Thomas Cahill, "save civilization" by copying the stories of Christianity while the rest of Europe warred after the fall of Rome, there was surely hope for Ireland's rich Celtic heritage. Both men were not hopeful that clear day upon the ocean. When John O'Leary and Mitey McNally speak of their homeland they see a Skellig monk, a past glory enriched by culture, a place of solace, communities of caring, co-operative people. Their Ireland is a rich one, of ballad and song and storytelling, a magic place of saints and scholars - 'a Celtic Homeland'. Sadly their Ireland, for who cares, is dying. The Celtic spirit is imbued in Irish life by academics and romantics, idealists and intellectuals, ecologists and artists. And it is a major attraction for tourists who have been fed a diet of Celtic legend and mythology, who are easily tempted by the Irish Tourist Board's  (A Thousand Welcomes). For the majority, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, 'Celtic Ireland' is history, a mythological echo from a far distant past. When Ireland's commentators, journalists, spin doctors, economists, politicians, bureaucrats and business people speak of their homeland they see a reality that to them represents economic growth, wealth and prosperity. Their Ireland is a rich one, of economy and technology and modernity and growth - a thing they began to call the 'Celtic Tiger' during the boom years of the 1990s. [footnote 1] It is epitomized by people like Michael O'Leary, chief executive of the low-fare airline Ryanair, who received £17 million for his shares after the company went public. This was his reward for his part in the success of the Celtic economy, so that he could spend the rest of his life "in Barbados with a load of babes". Others who have benefited from the success include Smurfit chief executive Ray Curran, who was awarded $2.48 million in 1999 and CIE [footnote 2] chief executive Michael McDonnell, whose salary was increased 80 percent from £100,000 to £181,952 in 2000 - even though the Partnership for Prosperity and Fairness agreed between the state and trade unions to control wages only allows workers a five percent increase. According to Ray MacSharry, a politician who is credited with creating the policies that led to the economic boom when he was finance minister in the late 1980s, and Padraic White, managing director of the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland during the 1980s when the IDA was fending off criticism of its methods, the Celtic Tiger economy has transformed Ireland and benefited all its people. "Sustained high growth has produced virtual full employment with low inflation, a sharply declining debt burden and large budget surpluses, all helping to complete this virtuous circle." This is spin doctoring of the finest kind but it gives a false impression. Oh yes capitalism is flourishing making landlords and speculators and developers and business executives and politicians rich beyond their dreams, and there is no shortage of jobs in Dublin and its hinterland. MacSharry and White see Ireland's economic regeneration as a consequence of the change from a predominately agricultural rural economy to an industrial urban society. "In 1922," - when partial independence was gained from Britain - they stated in 2000, "over half the labour force was engaged in agriculture and two-thirds of the population lived in rural areas. Today, just one in ten work on the land, while two-thirds live in towns. And there are encouraging signs that the Irish diaspora, which had left Ireland with perhaps the highest rate of emigration of any European country in the past two centuries, is finally being reversed. Labour shortages in Ireland oblige the state agency FAS to use employment roadshows in Germany and other EU member states to try and recruit workers for unfilled vacancies in financial-services and electronics firms at home. Just over a decade ago, that would have seemed an impossible dream, just like the Celtic Tiger economy." But what of the people left on the land? For the rural majority - especially those who live on the margins, on the periphery, at the edge of the Western World like John O'Leary and Mitey McNally - the roar of the Celtic Tiger is indeed a distant refrain. Once more it seems Ireland has been partitioned, this time into prosperous Urban Ireland and decaying Rural Ireland, but what of the collective spirit, what of the Celtic soul, what of the Celtic heartlands? There is a sensual magic about the mountains, valleys, woodlands, rivers and lakes in the west of Ireland. Tens of thousands travel each year to witness their splendor, most unaware they belong to mystical time. If they travel in winter, they are presented with life itself in all its rage and humility, the native people struggling to make a living under gray sodden skies, nature in fury - winds and rain and flooding. In summer they might see a full moon inviting the ghosts of the land to cast their black shadows over an emerald-green and turf-brown landscape that has been denuded by millions of sheep. The traveler, perhaps, might feel intimidated by these amorphous shadows. The native Irish, those whose genes still carry the dreams and hopes of the ancient Celtic tribes, instead take solace from these ghosts for they spark souls and fire spirits. They are the reason for going on. This place holds timeless memories, embedded deeply in the boggy fields and granite rocks. Memories that hold pain as well as joy. For the people who live there it is very different. These days there isn't much joy in the west of Ireland, but a lot of selfish desire, repressed anger, anxious fear and leavetaking - in every village and townland. Letterfrack, in north-west Connemara (the hinterland west to north-west of Galway city), is gradually becoming a place of ghosts. Leo Hallissey, headmaster of the National School, fears for the future of a community that has been atomized by debilitating poverty, perpetual disillusionment and the flight of the young - generation after generation. It is his job to make sure the children he teaches realize that they are as much a part of their environment as the flora, fauna and marine life. He encourages the children to celebrate this diversity. Their response, in the form of art, magic and knowledge, describes the reality but only a few of the children see the same vision as their head teacher. Many will leave the area and never return. Connemara boys and girls tend to leave school as soon as they can, at 15 or 16, sometimes before they do their 'Leaving' exams. Once, they would have seen third level education as a ticket out of the place. Now only a proud few go on to third level education. The need to earn money is paramount - even if the work is poorly paid. Then they take the road out, first to Galway or Dublin, then beyond. Hallissey lives on a hill at the edge of a promontory that juts into a turbulent Atlantic. A few miles inland lies his school, in the village of Letterfrack, at the end of the road that leads from his home. This road stops at a crossroads. Travelers turning left will skirt the Connemara National Park enroute along the road that will take them past a deep fjord known locally as Killary (covered since the mid-1990s with mussel lines), into the village of Leenaun (the location of JB Keane's play The Field, which was filmed in the village and at nearby Ashley Falls) and on towards Maam Bridge and the great lake of the Corrib in which 365 islands mark the days of the year. If they turn right the road will take them to Clifden - the capital of Connemara - past the Twelve Bens mountain range, the magnificent architectural splendor of Kylemore Abbey, and (if they take the contour of the coast) along the Sky Road high above the Atlantic past the ruins of Clifden Castle into the seasonal town. North-west Connemara is characterized by the seasonal flow that brings tourists, blow-ins (from other parts of Ireland) and non-natives into the area to admire its rugged beauty, to celebrate a culture that takes them away from their lives in the fast lanes of the materialist world. At the peak of this flow there is paid work in the pubs, hostels, B&Bs, restaurants, hotels and shops. Crafts are sold. Storytellers, balladeers and musicians revel in the celebration of their talents. Story, song, music and dance enliven the spirits of lost souls. Lives are shaped by a smile, a look, a word, a melody, a hug, a kiss. Hearts are warmed, minds are stimulated, friendships are formed. Then the darkness of winter descends, the tourists dwindle away, the blow-ins who own most of the properties in the area return to their east coast homes, leaving behind the likes of Hallissey and the families who send their children to his school. It is the same all over Connemara. In the months when the home-owners and tourists arrive buzzing. After they leave it becomes a ghost place. But this is a superficial impression. Life in Connemara or anywhere along the western seaboard of Ireland is not so easily explained. There is culture, there is craic, there is empowerment. Sadly there is also the gradual erosion of community. "We're pushing people out of the coastal areas," says Hallissey. "We are pretending we are not. We are pushing people into urban areas. We are not looking at the consequences of planning. If you beef up large areas like Galway the implications are that it is going to suck people in from the outside. You'll have a group of satellite towns that will benefit from that but out further from that you're going to leave the countryside bare." "If there isn't a dramatic intervention, we, like other coastal communities are going to be locked up. We are going to be part time places. We will become an urban based country, part of a big farming syndrome. We'll have a little bit of recreation and our community here will be wiped out. We'll be left with a group of people who can afford to live here and another group of people who will be caretakers. The rest will be gone. We'll have a migratory workforce. "People have to live on these landscapes and they do feel threatened and have suffered. Not everyone with land is doing badly. Some are doing well but the smaller farmers still haven't got a voice. There's no place where they can articulate their voices. The Irish Farmers Association is driven by business farmers, big farmers, accountant-type farmers. I'm sure they are very efficient and good at what they do but when you see the kind of money that is given to the farming community, the amount of money that doesn't reach small farmers is incredible. We also need to look at our resources and carry out a proper resource analysis. If we have too much sheep why can't we turn them into mutton pies and pates and all sorts of smoked meats which the continentals want. Why aren't we producing high quality organic food out of areas if we want to be labour intensive, to create work for people. There's no reason why we shouldn't be growing a whole range of organic food. Most of the food that is consumed here comes from outside the area. Most of the crafts that are sold here are from outside. If you look at Connemara you must say there is something strange going on here in terms of marketing. We bring a couple of thousand people into the area all wanting to spend money and you have nothing local to sell them. There's something wrong. there. There's no organic units here. There was one Dutch person in the Maam Valley doing cheese. They're closed down." Life in the rural west is a struggle. It is a life that has not changed much since the middle of the 19th century. Those with inherited jobs/businesses, property and land stay. Those who haven't emigrate. It is a depressing reality that the people of the west are hemorrhaging from unemployment and emigration, and a feeling that is close to alienation from 'modern' Ireland. The population decline since the famines of the 19th century when Ireland had over eight million people (the 32 counties had 5.2 million in 2000) has been devastating and the predictions for the 21st century are not good. A mid-1990s survey revealed that 800 townlands in the province of Connaught (counties Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare) were deserted. This desertion of townlands has continued (with the west's 1990 population of 550,000 expected to fall to around 450,000 by 2010) even though net emigration has slowed because of the lack of work in America and Britain and availability of work in the construction and building trades, and in foreign-owned factories. While these figures fall out of peoples' mouths they are based on the reality of life in the west - which is characterized by a demographic statistic that is obvious to everyone, particularly those who live there. The majority of the population is under 18 or over 50. Tomas O Conaire, principle of the national school in the parish of Ros Muc, in the Connemara Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) in the south west of county Galway, calculated that four out of five of all pupils who attended the school between 1930 and 1975 have since left the area. He estimated that three out of five emigrated. Inevitably this has led to the gradual erosion of the population. In 1960 O'Conaire's school accommodated 171 pupils and the successive decades have seen the roll decrease to 92 in 1970, 63 in 1980 and 42 in 1990. This is the consequence of the few young families in the area. One father, who lost his only daughter to emigration in 1990, worried that if those who have left don't return "there will be no one here" in 20 years time. "If there is a dance on or anything of that nature, even the youth club, one can clearly see the lack of young people." The emigration figures county by county between 1986 and 1991 describe the reality and they make grim reading. The population of Leitrim decreased by 6.4%; Roscommon by 5%; Mayo by 3.9%; Sligo by 2.3%; Galway (excluding the county borough) by 1.5%; the overall decline for the province of Connaught was 2%. A study of emigration and unemployment showed that during the period 1956-71 Galway experienced heavier net emigration than the average for the state. Connemara in particular has been in decline for most of the 20th century. In the 60 years up to the 1986 census the population of Connemara halved and has been decreasing by about five% ever since. Emigration from the west was a constant fact of life throughout the 20th century, apart from the 1971-79 period - when a combination of state investment, European Economic Community membership and economic stability boosted employment in fishing and farming. But this did not last. While membership of the European Union has benefited some sections of Irish society, others have been left impoverished, significantly the mid-western, north-western and border counties - which all share, in slight degrees, the statistics of Connemara. Before Ireland joined the EEC in 1973 unemployment ran at 5%, inflation was slightly less than 5%. Within ten years inflation was out of control, rising to 21% in 1982, then falling to 4% in1986. Throughout the 1980s unemployment rose, reaching a peak of 17% in 1986. The west bore the brunt of these recessions, as the young took to the road for the bus station, railway station or airport. In the 1990s the Celtic Tiger roar energized Ireland's economy - unemployment falling to an average of 8% in the later years of the decade and inflation averaging 3% - but the west of Ireland did not share the benefits. One in six of the workforce in the west of Ireland were unemployed during the 1990s, and while incomes for those with jobs increased (by a quarter of the European Union average) during 1991-97 they did not keep up with increases in the national average. If you believe the historians, communities in the west of Ireland have suffered for a long, long time as much from their own hands as those of others. The west is now dying and becoming isolated, its seeds returning diseased to the earth or flying away in the hope of finding fertile soil in the east coast conurbation that is surrounding Dublin or in another land. No longer a green field of beautiful, colorful flowers radiating hope and joy, ugly misshapen plants rampage everywhere in the west. Some people, particularly anyone over 50, will tell you they are simply waiting to die. But the reality is different. This is about selfish survival, and those roots are very deep and widespread. Despite a succession of invasions of tribes from all over Europe, it wasn't until the English, under Elizabeth I and then Cromwell, got hold of the country that Ireland's ancient Celtic fabric began to unravel. The original Celts in Ireland were pagan nomads who had traveled from the far reaches of Europe's mainland - from the Russian Steppes, India, Persia, Greece, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the Iberian peninsula - and were well capable of looking after themselves. They came, according to legend, like a river between 5,200 and 2,350 years ago, a trickle at first with the Greek princess Cesair (daughter of Bith, son of Noah), who brought with her 50 girls and three men - Bith, Ladhru and Fintan - forty days after the Flood; then Partholón (son of Sera) came 300 years later with his family and one thousand followers into the Inver river at Kenmare, County Kerry, travelling from the lands beyond the eastern Mediterranean; with Nemed (son of Agnoman of the Greeks of Scythia) came a flow but his peoples' conflicts with the Fomorians - the sea rovers - ended in a great battle that saw three bands of surviving Nemedians flee the island (one group traveling into the northern islands of Europe where they became known as the Tribe of the Goddess Danu - the Tuatha Dé Danaan - learning magic and knowledge, sorcery and cunning; a second into Greece where they were enslaved and were known as the bagmen - the Fir Bolg; and a third into northern England, where they became known as Britons - after their leader Britán Mael); the invasions became a flood with the pragmatic Fir Bolg who escaped their chains and returned to their homeland where they divided it among themselves into five provinces; then the dreamy Tuatha De Danaan - who came out of the mountains of modern Leitrim and Longford shrouded in dark clouds, demanding battle or kingship - took by force at the battles of Moytura in south Mayo the kingdoms of the Fir Bolg; and finally the warrior-poet Milesians (the Sons of Maine) came to fight a succession of battles which culminated with a victory at the Battle of Tailtiu (now Teltown, County Meath), that led to a peculiar agreement. Erui of the Tuatha de Danaan told Amairgen, the warrior-poet king of the Milesians: "Warriors," she announced, "this island will be yours forever." The agreement was the first partition of Ireland, Amairgen ruling that the Tuatha Dé Danaan would live underground (where they became the 'Little People' of Irish legend - forever part of the Irish Celtic landscape), leaving the rest to the Sons of Ma. The Milesians fought other Celtic tribes who sought to rule this small island but gradually the ways of all these similar peoples melted into a tradition which made Ireland a 'Celtic Nation'. [footnote 3] When Christianity reached Ireland - ironically brought by a Anglo-Roman called Patricius who had been kidnapped by Irish raiders probably led by Niall of the Nine Hostages - the Celtic way of life was not suppressed. Instead it flourished with a great deal of "catholic" revisionism by Christian priests who saw themselves as part of a Celtic tradition. Raids and occupations by Saxons and Danes had little effect on Irish ways and Irish laws. Domestic wars simply transferred power. And even the all-conquering Normans could not subdue the Irish Celts. They simply allowed themselves to be assimilated. This all changed, after 450 years of Anglo-Norman rule, in 1654 with an order from the parliament of England. "Under penalty of death, no Irish man, woman, or child, is to let himself, herself, itself be found east of the River Shannon." Three and a half centuries ago Celtic Ireland was scattered to the winds and left to die. The Celtic (Brehon) laws by which the people lived were abolished. Anti-Catholic laws were introduced. The Celtic chiefs were killed or exiled. Celtic poets were banished. Land was taken away from people unless they took the Oath of Abjuration - which was an act of apostasy. Many people fled, mostly to Connaught. It was hell east of the Shannon. Despite colonial oppression, successive generations of Celtic Irish toiled and sweated on the rocky bogland and the barren soil of Connaught, and learned to master the capriciousness of the Atlantic - despite being told they were not allowed to go within a mile of the coastline or fish the rivers and lakes. These laws were contemptuously ignored as people settled near the coast and scattered themselves among the valleys and mountains, beside rivers and lakes. They prevailed, built homelands and established communities which survived on mutual aid, sharing and co-operation. But they were never far from danger. English colonial policy in Ireland dictated a regime of divide and rule, a tactic that will always reveal the weak from the strong, the coward from the hero. Then came the 19th century famines and the west was emptied of its pesky Celts, many dying, many escaping - leaving behind a haunted land. The Roman Catholic Church became a dominant force, riding successfully on the back of nationalism which it had once opposed, and - despite a resurgence in all things Celtic in the period between Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the Easter Revolution in 1916 - the churches (catholic and protestant) took hold of peoples' spiritual lives. The Celtic spirit began to weaken as it was pushed further westwards while the new Irish 'Free State', minus six north-eastern counties, struggled to survive in a fiercely competitive 20th century. Native Irish speakers, who fought for a national electronic media in the 1960s, saw their dreams come true but Irish speaking areas were shrinking and allowing English to be spoken. Only in west Belfast, where some of those escaping the famine had fled, has the Celtic culture and language thrived. Writing in the period before Ireland broke free of the British Commonwealth in 1948, Sean O'Faolain considered the impact of the Celtic tradition on the Irish people, noting that the legal, moral and social laws and codes give an "old atavistic individualism which tends to make all Irishmen inclined to respect no laws and though this may be socially deplorable it is humanly admirable, and makes life more tolerable and charitable and easy-going and entertaining". It has, it seems, been this way for as long as the English have known the Irish and has now become a tried cliche, yet it goes a long way to explain why the people of the west have become selfish. Survival is and has for a long time been more important than anything - including kinship - just like it was in the days of the Celts. The Irish are known the world over as erudite, friendly, vivacious and warm, and woe betide anyone who should say they are capricious and selfish, cynical and negative, and frequently violent, yet that is now a prevailing characteristic of the "new" Irish. Social background seems irrelevant because it is cynical, selfish desire that drives the individual in modern Ireland. The "individualism" inherent in the Celtic spirit was rooted in nature and community, and latterly in nationalism as successive generations of Irish sought to control their own destinies. The Celts saw themselves as people of a holistic ecological, physical and spiritual world. To them it was all one world - a world they were born to defend. The modern Irish, whose genes have more in common with Saxon, Angle, Norse, Norman, Anglo-Norman and Pict antecedents and latterly Europeans of many cultures than the 'Celts of the Invasions', exhibit their individualism in shows of apathy, competitiveness, cynicism, ignorance, racism and sectarianism. We do not see these characteristics because they are hidden behind a sincere, smiling, Venetian-like mask. Kieran Allen summarized this change when he wrote, "the entrepreneur has replaced the rebel as the hero of modern society". In 1993 I was confronted with the cynical cutting edge of this new society by the environmental director of an industry confederation. "Do we want to be organic farmers and waitresses or do we want to get on with it?" By 2000 the edge had been sharpened. In Dublin I was told by a university educated twenty-something to "get back where you belong" - presumably meaning Belfast where I was born in 1956. (Belfast sits astride counties Antrim and Down in the north-east of Ireland, and like the rest of the six counties known as Northern Ireland is now regarded by many southern Irish people as a separate state.) Racism and sectarianism is now commonplace in Dublin - Ireland's cosmopolitan city. It had always existed in the west. Insularity does that to the soul. But what about those who by their own nature are not cynical or selfish or fascist, who are altruistic and caring and sharing? They are the dispossessed but they are not weak. Tom Collins sees the nature of the society which is emerging amongst the dispossessed on the fringes of Irish society as "one which has a renewed interest in traditional Irish society, but has rejected its caricature; it equates personal growth with social commitment; it espouses spirituality but discards religiosity; it is committed to democracy but distrusts politicians; it has fundamental commitment to work but is likely to be unemployed; it is locally committed but globally oriented; it is coming from the outside in rather from the inside out". Yet it is hard to see this if you are not among the dispossessed, because few of us take the time to see what is happening around us. We are all too busy surviving. Since the early 1990s Ireland has become a building site. A crane towers over every church and scaffolding seems to climb like ivy over every other building. Pubs do a roaring trade, especially at weekends even in places where people and money are not constant companions, cornershops are being refitted as small supermarkets and the buses and trains are always full. The place is truly booming, it appears to the casual traveler. It is possible to look at places like Kilkee on the west coast of Clare and believe that the economic boom euphemistically called the Celtic Tiger is actually improving the quality of peoples' lives. You have to scratch the surface to see the reality. Behind the facade of the modern bungalow and the glamorous hotel is the stark reality that almost a quarter of the total population is functionally illiterate, that one in six are living, according to the United Nations, in "human poverty", and that Ireland has the highest rate of poverty in the western world after the USA. As Robbie Smyth put it: "The squalid reality of the Celtic Tiger is low paid workers, an underfunded health service, underfunded public transport, house prices out of the reach of ordinary citizens, a chronic shortage of local authority housing, a rampant heroin crisis, rural poverty and environmental deprivation in urban working-class areas." Kilkee looks prosperous because it is one of the recipients of a IR£110 million state initiative called the Seaside Resort Renewal Scheme. Launched in 1995 it allowed speculators, usually Dublin-based, to write off their investment on new holiday homes, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities in 15 designated seaside resorts. Although the building of holiday homes in these resorts brought badly needed work to the local tradespeople (skilled workers took home at least £300 a week, unskilled workers  £200), the sudden flush of development pushed up the price of land. In May 1997 a site on the northern side of town sold for £50,000. A decade earlier a site in Kilkee would have cost £10,000. The cost of building these houses averaged around £45,000 but they were sold (long before construction began, usually to Dublin-based companies) for up to  £100,000 - taking the big money out of the town, leaving a legacy of inflated values for prime development land. A young married couple in Kilkee hasn't a hope of buying or even renting a property because the jobs don't exist that would pay them the kind of money they would need to afford to stay in their home town. It is the same in Galway city which has benefited from the building boom and successive yearly increases of foreign and native tourists. It is thriving with hotels and restaurants and B&Bs but wages for those not working in manufacturing or the public sector are low - between £2.50 and £4.00 an hour - and living in Galway is expensive. A rented three-bedroom house costs about £500 a month. The average cost of a new house in the state is approximately £115,000 yet the average cost in rural Connemara is £80,000. In Galway city you wouldn't get much change from  £125,000 for a second hand house, in Dublin  £160,000. Not surprising then, that house prices in Ireland are the second most expensive in Europe. When the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Secretary Peter Cassells stated that many people "cannot afford to buy or rent a house anymore" he was also admitting that employment itself is not the answer, and that the trade unions (which have a 520,000 membership - among the highest per worker in Europe) have failed them because the partnership agreement with the government has not benefited workers. The ICTU, in a document about the partnership, recognize that "ownership of capital, especially large amounts of it, still gives individuals and families the most powerful advantage in reaching the top rung of the ladder and staying there," but that most people worked at the bottom rung of the economy and were "excluded from economic participation". Workers in this rung "rise early and queue for the first bus to get to work while most people are still asleep. They clean offices and cook breakfasts, make up hotel beds and prepare sandwiches ... work in clothes factories and launderettes and do a whole range of essential jobs without which the economy would grind to a halt". Much of the low-paid work that exists all over Ireland is in agriculture, retail, catering and services, and in the seasonal service and tourist industries. There are also 290,900 public sector workers, made up of civil servants, nurses, police, teachers, etc, and their pay is not so hot either - as the nurses tried to plea when 96 percent voted to take to the streets in what was the first test of the government's fiscal policies in 1999. This was followed by 1,000 people marching through Dublin to promote the Share the Wealth campaign, organized by the National Anti-Poverty Networks. Since 1999 campaigns demanding a share of the Celtic Tiger wealth and strikes to demand fair wages have continued, as the myth of prosperity for all has been exposed by the government's failure to spend money on new housing, adequate childcare and healthcare, better public transport and empowering education while wage increases have been refused. Yet, in the west, these are the only jobs on offer; that, or part-time work or unemployment or destitution. People only survive because they are able to do odd jobs for cash which is not declared for tax - the black economy. Incomes for the poorest sections of society, particularly in the west, are derived from social welfare payments, headage (sheep) payments, part-time wages and profits from casual trade activities. Agriculture, which used to provide work for two out of five people in the 1950s, employed one in ten by the 1990s - a statistic MacSharry and White believe is a mark of progress. State figures show that an average of 5,000 left farming every year during the 1990s. Several studies showed that many farmers lived on incomes of less than £100 a week and that some farming families got £172 per month, leaving three out of four farmers dependent on social welfare for income support. There is a strong dependency on farming yet most work holdings of less than 30 acres, of largely poor quality land. Mike Mahony drives the 7.45 Galway-Limerick national bus as far as Ennis in County Clare every night from Monday to Saturday. He changes over to the Galway bound bus from Limerick and is finished sometime between a quarter and half past ten. He starts work at three in the afternoon, taking a school run to Oranmore - just outside Galway city. During the summer - July 1 to September 1 - he does the run from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher in Clare and back. It's a job he does to make ends meet, taking home  £190 a week - a rate of pay unchanged since the early 1980s. Negotiations are expected to see the pay rise to £230. Despite the pitiful pay it's a job he enjoys. The older drivers are not doing it for the money, he asserts. "It's the life, we like the life. It's much the same lifestyle as if you were putting bottoms in buckets, its gets into your system, into your blood, driving around everyday. I imagine I'd die if I had to stay in one place for too long. Summer time is okay, but it's hard in the winter with the rain and the dark." Like many of the drivers working out of the Galway depot he is a small holder, running 24 green acres and 34 acres of mountain commonage of the family farm a few miles outside Gort in south Galway. He keeps a few horses on the better land and gets a few grand from the Rural Environment Protection Scheme. An unmarried man in his mid-forties, the second of a family of seven, he has been a bus driver since 1980, after joining CIE as a conductor in 1978. "The Celtic Tiger would make you mad," he says. There's no soft money to be made if you are working class. "They must be laughing at us, those politicians up in Dublin. They must think we are awful fucking eejits. We elected these people and it says something about us, but it's over now." When Eamon O'Cuiv, grandson of Eamon de Valera (founder of the Fianna Fail 'Soldiers of Destiny' party which dominated Irish politics from the 1930s until the 90s), was elected to Dail Eireann (Irish parliament) in 1992 as a Connemara (Galway West) Fianna Fail TD he said, "politicians are assessed on whether we can provide houses for people, jobs, schools, transport services, hospital beds and so on" yet seemed to feel this would be something beyond the scope of the present political system in Ireland. "When all the figures are put together at the end of the day, we're judged on how we provide the basic necessities to the community and that is something we must concentrate our minds on once again." Ten years later, O'Cuiv is among a small band of TDs who still have public credibility after a decade which saw the state prevaricate over how it should punish politicians who had received payments from developers and industrialists, and profits grow almost two and a half times faster than wage increases. By the end of the decade, Ireland's "economic performance" was being applauded and envied in equal doses by western industrialists and politicians. Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) were telling the Irish government to control public sector pay and keep the minimum wage low - the key to the success of the Celtic Tiger. While the urbanized east coast expands, with Dublin at its centre, the rural west shrinks with Galway at its center. This is what we see when we observe Dublin and Galway. We see thriving centers. We do not see illiteracy or poverty unless we are attuned to it. We do not see the young leave, unless we are family, we only see them return in droves at Christmas or Easter, flooding airports, bus and railway stations and seaports. We do not see the difference between the rich and the poor unless we follow them home to their houses. We cannot tell the rich landowner from the poor farmer because dress is no longer a criteria of status. The dispossessed have become living ghosts in a land that is now characterized by apathy, selfishness and greed. Why has it become like this? Trained as a teacher, Leo Hallissey joined Letterfrack school in 1980 after a period as a primary school consultant to the Dublin publishers Gill & Macmillan and a few years unemployed. In 1990 he was made headmaster. Like many in his profession he teaches large classes, a problem in itself. Hallissey however sees deeper problems with the educational system. "You can't build an education system on a bad foundation. We have a bad foundation. Our per capita spending is among the worst in Europe. The pupil-teacher ratio is the highest in Europe. Any major targeting of resources must go to the primary schools. I'm saying this not because I'm in it. It's the only truly democratic part of the system because everyone goes there. Also we are far too exam driven. We are not into creating healthy young people." In the west of Ireland we are creating many young people who see no hope for the future. People are dying from not belonging to a land that should be able to sustain them but hasn't the infrastructure or the politics to bring about change. "You can't eat the scenery," has been a constant lament for generations. People have lost their sense of place and their connection with the earth. It is terminal alienation. Young male suicide has become a stigma in Irish society. 88% of suicides in Ireland are male and they are very common in the rural west, despite the lower population density. What sort of society allows its bright people to kill themselves? The young people who kill themselves are sensitive, caring, intelligent. People ask what was so wrong that the young person killed themselves, they never ask what is wrong with the area - with society. Psychiatry tells us that suicides kill themselves because they do not want to partake in modern society. However, the academic analysis is irrelevant. The stories are relevant. The causes are much more relevant. Hallissey blames the pressures society puts on young people, the methods and means of education. "We are not developing young people. We are not producing creative thinkers. We are not creating the kind of people who are going to have the ability to make the major changes. We're turning out units." Hallissey is adamant that he has the credentials to make these criticisms, which do not come "from sitting on the fence". He is a director of FORUM (an enterprise group started by intellectuals at University College Galway), a member of the Heritage Council, a primary teacher and runs a rare entity - a successful, rural-based environmental group. "My criticisms are based on a hard reality. I'm looking at falling numbers in my school. I'm looking at dwindling numbers in my parish. I'm looking at excessive amounts of pressure being put on young people to leave this area. The excessive amounts of pressure are land prices, lack of accommodation and a lack of work and I mean worthwhile, long term work." In a quarter of a century the school population of Letterfrack has fallen by one in five, from 250 pupils in 1975. In nearby Leenaun there are 12 pupils in school. The numbers are dropping because families are moving away but even those with an education are not going on to college. Hallissey questions the impact local employers are having on school children. "The season here is getting longer. The hotels are opening in March up til Xmas. So if you want to keep your summer job you have to service it at the weekends, so kids who should be concentrating on school are working. They are working for small money. When you are young small money appears to be big money. All the basics are paid so you have a disposable income of £40 to £50. When you are quite young that appears to be a fair amount of money. It gives them a false sense of security. It certainly doesn't allow them to fulfill their potential within the educational system." When teenagers do go on to third level education, the majority realize fairly quickly that the pursuit of knowledge must be sacrificed to the cause of mammon. It now seems common to find young people lacking curiosity - an attitude Hallissey says must frustrate lecturers. "The attitude is we're here to get the facts, regurgitate them to you older people so that we can get a safe job. There's a lot of that driving the educational force. We need to look at the relationship between education and business. If we are looking at politicians and business we need to look at education and business, and the fact that we are locking the two together in a very unhealthy way." Hallissey also sees technology as a disempowering force in education. "I don't see the technology as being as free and inspiring as people make out to be. It's a totally overrated experience. In education the technology needs to be run by educationalists not technocrats. At the moment the technocrats are intimidating the educationalists because the educationalists don't have the jargon in the subject area." The state's failure to recognize what Hallissey sees means that despite his optimism nothing will change. There is a fatalism in his voice when he tells the story of his village and its hinterland, and talks about the choices the children who attend his school must ultimately make. Community doesn't matter when it becomes a place the young must abandon if they are to survive in the world. It wasn't always so. Today the young yearn to leave, to go to a university or to further education, or to find work in the big city - and there is not much difference between that desire and the emigration that was forced on the rural population. Once they were not so keen to leave their communities. The Irish are known the world over Brought up in Garnish on the Beara Peninsula in west Cork, during the 1950s and 1960s, Mitey McNally's story needs no embellishment. His is the same as many people who grew up with a sense of community, a sense of place - never wanted to leave but struggled to see how anything could be changed. If you've never been to the Beara Peninsula, to any west of Ireland coastal or rural community or even to a closely-knit urban community, it's hard to imagine what Mitey means when he talks about a sense of place, identity and belonging, why it means so much to be able to return or stay in the place were you were born, knowing that the quality of life is not a commodity to be bought off the shelf. As successive generations of native Irish are jettisoned into the urban sprawls of Dublin, London, New York, Boston and beyond into every corner of the planet, seeking employment and security, place and identity become nostalgic obsessions. "There was a great sense of pride in the communities. We used to do the usual meitheal (mutual aid) stuff, cutting the turf, saving the hay. The old man was always away at work at the county council so we had no horse and this was a great disadvantage to us. All the neighbors would come in, mow the hay for us or they'd come out and plough the garden - and in return we as young lads would go away and do some other work for them. We were self sufficient, the usual - spuds, carrots, parsnips - because we had no other choice. The ironic thing about it at that time was that we had grub for the animals and grew very, very little for ourselves. Like people ages ago they set very little vegetables and used basically live on spuds, turnips, salt mackerel, and sometimes in April we'd kill an animal - and you'd get a fresh bit of meat. The most prolific sort of bartering at that time was for example if we were killing an animal - maybe a pig. We would give our neighbors all a bit of fresh pork. At that time practically every family had a pig and invariably would kill it at different times. So those people we gave a bit of fresh pork to would in turn give us a bit of pork back. I remember as a kid getting hay seed from people. If you were short of hay seed for setting down after the spuds you'd go to a neighbor, the same with oats and short corn. If you ran out of spuds you could go over to a neighbor that might have a surplus of a few bags. There was Kerr Pinks, and the Banners. The Banners were about 90% (percent) water but they set them solely for the animals. The Kerr Pinks were for the family. They'd set big gardens - about an acre. The only thing we would buy was big 12 stone bags of flour and we might get one of those every month. We always had the use of maybe 30 acres but then again at that time the land was poor. I suppose three or four acres were arable but they used to plough the fields with a horse so there were a lot of places accessible which wouldn't be accessible now with machinery. The amount of animals we could carry on the land was very, very limited. The only fertilizer they might put out in the sixties was a bag of guano on the meadow for a little bit of fodder for the wintertime. It was imported from South America. There were no fertilizers so people had to have low stocking levels. There was shag all money in farming then anyway." A fisherman by nature and a trawlerman by profession, it was the diabetes that forced Mitey off the boats and trawlers and the thought of languishing on the dole that took him, after a spell traveling around France, to Paris during the summer of 1987. "This was the great turning point in my life. I went into a flat in Paris owned by a Muslim - a fella from Tunisia - and there I picked up and read Brian Friel's Translations. I put the question to myself having read it: what am I doing in Paris? Then I realized. I've always had a great love of place but I could never really cement it or gel it together. After having read Translations I think I found it." Reading Translations brought it back home to Mitey; his place in Garnish, his life as a subsistence farmer and fisherman. "It was that sense of identity - a confirmation of identity, that I really and truly belong in this place; it's the landscape, the history and the tradition that is written into it - there to be seen. We were never educated to stay here and love the place. Even if they'd put something like Translations into the 'Leaving' when I did it in 1973 that would have given us the power and a sense of place; we've never been educated to take root here or plant our feet in the landscape or in the ocean." The indelible impression Translations left on Mitey not only made him realize that his sense of place and identity was being warped, it made him ask questions about the social and political policies being pursued by the bureaucrats and politicians in Dublin. Like the sudden flush of dawn's light and the emotional awakening that comes with the promise of a new day, Mitey - for the first time since his childhood - was experiencing the warmth a state of wonderment imbues in the senses. You only have to wake up early in any of the townlands and villages on the edge of the Beara Peninsula to understand why Michael McNally packed his bags, chirped au revoir to Paris, and headed home, the landscape of his birth burning an unforgettable image in his brain. He would never a gain allow himself to forget what a sense of community, identity and place means to the human spirit and why these seemingly innocuous emotions form the basis for existence and life. Mitey now keeps a small farm in Garnish, which looks out on Skellig Michael. He lives on the dole occasionally taking small jobs to make ends meet and doesn't think much of the Celtic Tiger. It is possible today to look at the west of Ireland and not see what Mitey sees, or know how he feels, how Leo Hallissey feels, how the dispossessed feel. If - when you visit the Beara Peninsula, the Burren of Clare, Connemara's rugged coastline, the sweep of Sligo, or the Donegal highlands - you see nothing more than a turbulent Atlantic, a rain-shrouded mountain range, sparse rocky bogland, a barren land punctuated by patches of brown and green vegetation, the occasional tree and shrub, a dwelling dotted here and there and capricious weather patterns, you could be forgiven for believing that no one lives there, that this is a forgotten place - a place of ghosts - a place that is locked up until the blow-ins and tourists arrive. You would be right. The Celtic spirit remains in the souls of people like Leo Hallissey and Mitey McNally but they fear for the future of a country still regarded by others as the world's remaining 'Celtic Nation'. Much of Ireland's Celtic history exists as mythology - written by Greeks, Romans and Christian monks, albeit based on oral legend and academic musings. The notion that modern Ireland is still a Celtic Nation is also a myth. It is a myth now being perpetuated by the same people who manufactured the myth of economic prosperity for all to sell an image of Ireland to people who believe in mythology. The reality is a shimmering mirror of fading ghosts. Celtic Ireland is now a desire that resides in the ambitions of those, like Hallissey and McNally, who want to see a return to the Celtic way of life. They want to go home. - Robert Allen This editorial is an extract from Ireland Unbound: A Celtic Odyssey - a book which examines modern Irish society in the context of its Celtic Atlantic culture and suggests a vision for an Ireland that is self-sufficient and not dependent on corporate and British capital and rule. Footnotes: [1] Although the term 'Celtic Tiger' was coined by an economist in 1994, the Celtic Tiger economy was actually born in 1958 when the Irish government invited foreign corporates (significantly from the US) to set up shop in Ireland. The idea was that they would teach the Irish how to be successful capitalists. Instead US (and British) corporates, despite opposition mostly in rural Ireland, have gradually taken over Irish society. US investment, initially in pharmaceuticals and subsequently in electronics, in Ireland is the highest in Europe. Allied to this is the success of the financial services sector, which manages the profits of the corporates - in 1998 the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin managed $116 billion of funds, in direct competition with other tax havens. Despite this economic success workers, even in the IFSC, have not benefited. Between 1987 and 1997 wages as a percentage of gross national product (GNP) declined by a quarter. Throughout the 1990s average profits in all sectors ran 50 percent higher than wage increases. In 1999 the average industrial wage was £329.85 a week for men and £221.86 for women. [2] Coras Iompair Eireann - the national company which ran the trains, urban and rural buses - now operates as separate companies. [3] The dates of these invasions, first postulated by the Four Masters in their Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, are now being revealed by archeological research as much later though there is still uncertainty among Celtic scholars who have only archeological evidence backed by radiocarbon dating, Greco-Roman literature and the works of Christian monks based on anecdotal legend to go by. The Milesians are believed to have traveled from Persia via Rome (which they sacked) and the Iberian Pennisula to Ireland only 350 years before the birth of Christ - 2,350 years ago. Archeological research also indicates that the great stone megalith at Newgrange, County Meath was built by the Tuatha de Danaan circa 5,200 years ago. This would place Celtic colonialization of Ireland in the period, for unknown years, before 5,200 years ago if we assume, and that is all we can do given that we are dealing with anecdotal legend, that there is some truth to these mythical speculations. ---------------------------------- THE FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL (english) BILL 12:53am Tue Apr 30 '02 (Modified on 5:49am Tue Apr 30 '02) article#177219 Did you know that the first act of terrorism in the Middle East was committed by the Jewish Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist group when they bombed the British Embassy in 1946, killing 91 people? Did you know that when the Palestine Problem was created by Britain in 1917, more than 90% of the population of Palestine were Arabs, and that there were only 56,000 Jews in Palestine? Did you know that the first act of terrorism in the Middle East was committed by the Jewish Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist group when they bombed the British Embassy in 1946, killing 91 people? Did you know that when Britain passed the Palestinian Problem on to the United Nations for handling in 1947, that the Zionists owned only 6% of Palestine and that this land was taken from the Palestinians by the British government? Did you know that Israel's occupation of Palestinian land is illegal and that under international law Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against Israel's illegal occupation by any means whatsoever? Did you know that Israel allots 85% of Palestinian water resources for Jews and the remaining 15% is divided among all Palestinians in the territories? For example in Hebron, 85% of the water is given to about 400 settlers, while 15% must be divided among Hebron's 120,000 Palestinians? Did you know that Israeli military checkpoints surround every Palestinian population center in violation of the Oslo Accords? That in numerous Palestinian towns they must pass through a military check point just to cross the street and that the Israeli military routinely makes them wait for hours - without cause or justification - before allowing them to proceed? Did you know that non-Jewish Israelis cannot buy or lease land in Israel? Did you know that Palestinian license plates in Israel are color coded to distinguish Jews from non-Jews? Did you know the Israelis build roads through Palestinian owned territories that only Jews can drive on? Did you know that Jerusalem, both East and West, is considered by the entire world community, including the United States, to be occupied territory and NOT part of Israel? Did you know that Palestinian Christians are considered the "living stones" of Christianity because they are the direct descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ? Did you know that Israel stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council Resolutions? Did you know that the right of self-determination is guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December, 1948), yet Palestinians were/are expected to negotiate for this right under the Oslo Accords? Did you know Israel has imposed a system of apartheid upon the Arabs who stayed in their homeland? More than 90% of these Arabs live in "security zones;" they alone live under martial law, restricting their freedom to travel from village to village or from town to town; their children are denied equal opportunities for education; and they are denied decent opportunities for work, and the right to receive "equal pay for equal work?" Did you know that Israel routinely confiscates Palestinian bank accounts, businesses, and land and refuses to pay compensation to those who suffer the confiscation? Did you know that it was not until 1988 that Israelis were barred from running "Jews Only" job ads? Did you know that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons? Did you know that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections from its sites? Did you know that Israel illegally obtained the technology to build its nuclear weapons by spying on the U.S. Government in the 1960's? Did you know that Israel currently occupies territories of sovereign nations (Lebanon and Syria) in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions? Did you know that Israel blew up an American diplomatic facility in Egypt (1954) and attacked a U.S. ship (1967) in international waters, killing 33 and wounding 177 American sailors? Did you know that the second most powerful lobby in the United States, according to a recent Fortune magazine survey of Washington insiders, is the Israeli American Israel Public Affairs Commission? In other words, out of all of the huge U.S. corporations and special interest groups, that the AIPA "contributes" more money to political campaigns and lobbying campaigns than all but one other organization? Under these circumstances, do you think it is possible for our political leaders to act without bias with regard to Israel? Did you know the United States awards Israel $5 billion in aid each year? Did you know that yearly US aid to Israel exceeds the aid the US grants to the whole African continent? Did you know that four prime ministers of Israel (Begin, Shamir, Rabin, and Sharon) have taken part in either bomb attacks on civilians, massacres of civilians, or forced expulsions of civilians from their villages? Did you know that Israel's current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was found by an Israeli court to be "personally responsible" for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Lebanon in which thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilian refugees were slaughtered in 1982? Did you know that the Israeli Foreign Ministry pays two American public relations firms to promote Israel to Americans? (Now you know why U.S. media is so biased in favor of Israel). Did you know that Sharon's coalition government includes a party Molodet: which advocates expelling all Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories? Did you know that Israel's (illegal) settlement-building increased in the eight years since Oslo? Did you know that settlement building under Barak doubled compared to settlement building under Netanyahu? Did you know that the Palestinians have already accepted Israel's existence on 78% of what was Palestine. Bible: God said to Abraham, "Unto thy seed, I will give thy land." Abraham had two sons. Ismael-the Arab son, and Isaac-the Jewish son. So even if one wants to go to the Bible, the land would belong to both. Did you know that despite a ban on torture by Israel's High Court of Justice, torture has continued by Shin Bet interrogators on Palestinian prisoners? Did you know that Palestinian refugees make up the largest portion of the refugee population in the world? Did you know that Palestinians have the highest ratio of PhDs per capita in the world? Did you know that today's Israel sits on the former sites of more than 400 destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the Israelis renamed almost every physical site in the country to cover up the traces? Did you know that Israel has for decades routinely sent assassins in to other countries to kill its political enemies?  Did you know that high-ranking military officers in the Israeli Defense Forces have admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war were Executed by the IDF? Did you know that Israel refuses to prosecute its soldiers who have acknowledged executing civilians and prisoners of war? =========== This Article of Facts is for Fox News People (english) ha ha 5:31am Tue Apr 30 '02 comment#177256 Good stuff. Will send it on to Bill O'Reilly at Fox News who prides himself in dealing with facts not "spin" - but seems to be very pro-Israel in the face of facts. ============ Facts? Lets' take it from the top (english) Mike 5:49am Tue Apr 30 '02 comment#177259 Did you know that when the Palestine Problem was created by Britain in 1917, more than 90% of the population of Palestine were Arabs, and that there were only 56,000 Jews in Palestine? ======== >> Interesting math. Were this true fact, then the population of the area would have to have been over 1/2 million in 1917 (hint: not even close to that -- Turkish census figures do exist, you know) ======== Did you know that the first act of terrorism in the Middle East was committed by the Jewish Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist group when they bombed the British Embassy in 1946, killing 91 people? ========== >> FIRST? You gotta be kidding. One of the most famous of the terrorist groups (the "Stern Gang") had almost no members still living by the end of WWII -- it had split off from the Irgun precsiely over the question of stopping anti-British attacks for the duration. Jewish anti-British terrorism dates to the 30's; Palestinian anti-Jewsih to the 20's (eg: Hebron) ========= Did you know that when Britain passed the Palestinian Problem on to the United Nations for handling in 1947, that the Zionists owned only 6% of Palestine and that this land was taken from the Palestinians by the British government? ======== >> Several things wrong with this one. First of all, percent of WHAT (since the British mandate originally included "Trans-Jordan" -- now Jordan). Second, you cannot simply "subtract" to conclude 94% Arab as much of the land area wasn't owned by anybody (in the serious desert areas, it's WELLS which needed to be owned, not the acreage). Third, what is being counted as "Zionist owned". Because of British restrictions on "Jewisih" buying of land, a great deal of ownership was hidden via "paper trail" -- eg: by and large land owned by British and American "business interests" WAS actually "Jewish owned" (who do you imagine these American and British shell companies were). And last but certainly not least, the British didn't GIVE any land ownership to anybody. Land was bought from the legal owners. Precisely the problem NOBODY now seems to be willing to talk about. By and large the land had been OWNED by Turkish absentee landlords. When Britain took control POLITICALLY from Turkey they did NOT dissolve property rights. There was no "agrarian reform" program implemented. So yes, when this land was bought by "the Jews" mostly it wasn't being bought from the Palestinians but from the people who owned it. There certainly WERE debates within the proto-Israeli left during the 20's and 30's about their responsibility toward displaced tennants. But remember, the people actually putting up the money and doing the buying tended to be "private property" oriented. I'll stop here after discussing the first three "facts" becasue this could go on all day. Bill, I advise you to STUDY the history of the place before trying to talk about it. Oversimplifying the history will lead to failure to understand what kind of solutions we need to get to peace. ------------------------------ "Le Pen's triumph based on electoral flaws:Abstainers, system, not Le Pen blame" (english) David R. Sands 9:34pm Wed May 1 '02 article#177627 nice critiques of the United States & the French voting systems, & more: 'Mr. Richie, whose nonprofit Center for Voting and Democracy strongly backs the instant runoff idea, said the instant runoff provides a classic case of how the rules for an election can determine its tone and substance. In a crowded field where voters cannot rank their preferences, candidates are often tempted to attack those closest to them on the ideological scale. The phenomenon can be seen in the often brutal early fights in U.S. party primaries, where candidates vie to emerge as "the liberal" or "the conservative" standard-bearer by turning on the rivals most like themselves.  /world/20020429-75767982.htm April 29, 2002 Le Pen's triumph based on electoral flaws By David R. Sands THE WASHINGTON TIMES Far-right populist Jean-Marie Le Pen's stunning success in last week's first round of French presidential voting has been variously ascribed to the collapse of the French mainstream, a crisis of conscience on the French left, rising xenophobia in Western Europe and rising crime rates on the streets of France. But scholars who specialize in the dry mechanics of electoral systems and voter-choice theory have a different take on the vote: A two-stage, multicandidate contest failed to impose discipline on voters and thus did not demonstrate the public's preference. In other words, a poorly designed system produced a predictably unrepresentative result. "If you study comparative electoral systems for a living, you could really see this coming in France," said Robert Richie, executive director of the Takoma Park-based Center for Voting and Democracy. "They've been playing with fire for a long time." Rules affect outcome Mark Jones, an associate professor in political science at Michigan State University, is one of the country's leading researchers in comparative electoral systems, the increasingly sophisticated modeling of how the world's voting democracies choose their leaders. "They tend to get overlooked, but the rules of the vote have a profound effect on who runs, who gets elected, how campaigns are conducted, and often, how well the government will function," he said. Choice theorists tend to inhabit a non-ideological parallel universe, a world of "droop quotas" and "retention fractions," "Newland-Britton methods" and "surplus transfers." But they contend that such ivory-tower theorizing can produce real-world insights explaining, for instance, why Israel's Knesset is chronically divided, why so few U.S. congressmen face difficult re-election fights, or why Germany's parliament is so stable while Brazil's is so volatile. Mr. Le Pen's second-place finish in the April 21 vote, bumping Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin out of the runoff contest next Sunday with center-right President Jacques Chirac, stunned pollsters and pundits in France and caused consternation across the continent. But Mr. Jones and others have noted that Mr. Le Pen's 16.86 percent share in the 16-candidate field was only marginally ahead of his results in the first-round presidential balloting of 1988 and 1995. No Le Pen surge The base-line support for Mr. Le Pen's National Front rose by a mere 429,000 voters between 1988 and 2002 0.1 percent of all registered voters. Any "surge" of support for Mr. Le Pen, 73, was purely relative, a reflection of the sharp fall in support for Mr. Jospin coupled with an unusually high abstention rate (28 percent) among French voters in the April 21 balloting. The nine French presidential candidates representing left, far left and environmental parties received a combined 47.7 percent of the vote, but the left-leaning vote was so badly fragmented that Mr. Jospin was denied a place in the runoff. A multifield candidate and a two-round election affect not only who runs but how voters vote. In France, voters have in recent elections been more likely to support a fringe candidate in the first round either to express a preference or to register a protest knowing they can still vote for one of the electable "mainstream" candidates in the second round. French voters, it is said, vote with their hearts in the first round, and with their heads in the second. The problem with that strategy in the bloated French field is that the transition from 16 to two choices is "too abrupt," said Mr. Richie. First-round whimsy "The prospect of a runoff liberates voters psychologically in the first round," he said. "Voters on the left who had every intention of switching to Mr. Jospin in the second round woke up to find they had helped vote him out of the race." Mr. Jones at Michigan State said that electoral theorists are constantly striving to fashion electoral systems that balance choice and responsibility offering voters a manageable range of candidates, but also forcing them to realize that they will have to live with their selections. The Le Pen phenomenon is nothing new to electoral specialists. In the 1991 Louisiana governor's race like the French ballot, a multicandidate, two-stage contest former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke knocked incumbent Democrat Buddy Roemer out of the race with 32 percent to 29 percent, behind Republican Edwin Edwards. In a more recent example, Romanian ultranationalist Corneliu Vadim Tudor who had a history of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Hungarian comments on his record made it into the runoff against ex-communist Ion Iliescu, when the center-right governing coalition was shut out by voters. Both Mr. Duke and Mr. Tudor were decisively rejected by voters, as politicians of the large mainstream parties united to stop them. Most observers predict the same thing will happen to Mr. Le Pen in France, where left and center-right politicians are lining up behind Mr. Chirac for the May 5 vote. Condorcet's solution "In a sense, you could say the runoff system worked just as it was supposed to," said Mr. Richie. "Voters will have time to consider their choices and the extremist will be crushed," he added. "On the other hand, you can say that almost half the electorate is being forced to make a choice between two candidates they would never prefer under ordinary circumstances." In a neat bit of Gallic irony, the man considered the father of electoral-choice theory was French. Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, was a French Enlightenment philosopher, social scientist, economist and mathematician, a friend of Voltaire and Diderot who met an untimely end in jail during the most radical period of the French Revolution. Condorcet's Rule formulated as part of a pioneering study of voting preferences in 1785 holds that the winning candidate should be the one who could defeat any other candidate in a one-on-one contest. Instead of selecting just one candidate from a large field of choices, voters under the system envisaged by Condorcet would rank every candidate by preference. Plurality vs. majority A recurring problem with "plurality" voting systems where the candidate with the most votes wins is that many times, the winner is supported by far less than half of the voters. President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both won decisive electoral victories without ever claiming 50 percent of the popular vote. If the first round of this year's French presidential election had been conducted under the Condorcet Rule, Mr. Le Pen the preferred candidate of an estimated 20 percent of the French electorate at most would have had no chance of making the runoff over Mr. Jospin, or any other acceptable center-left or center-right candidate. Several countries have tried to introduce a variant of Condorcet's ideas into their election rules. Australia's national elections since 1919 have used what is called instant runoff voting, in which voters rank candidates for office. When the votes are counted, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his ballots are given to each voter's second choice. The process continues, eliminating the low scorer each round, until a winner is produced. A similar system is in use in Ireland and in some U.S. jurisdictions, including San Francisco's municipal elections and the Republican primary convention in Utah. The Nader factor Mr. Jones, the political scientist at Michigan State, said the voter ranking, instant runoff system would almost certainly have changed the outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election already notorious among election theorists for the butterfly ballot, hanging chads and other unique difficulties. Vice President Al Gore "would have won unquestionably under that system," Mr. Jones said. "He would have taken Florida and New Hampshire as the overwhelming second choice" after Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Mr. Richie, whose nonprofit Center for Voting and Democracy strongly backs the instant runoff idea, said the instant runoff provides a classic case of how the rules for an election can determine its tone and substance. In a crowded field where voters cannot rank their preferences, candidates are often tempted to attack those closest to them on the ideological scale. The phenomenon can be seen in the often brutal early fights in U.S. party primaries, where candidates vie to emerge as "the liberal" or "the conservative" standard-bearer by turning on the rivals most like themselves. The French election was "just New Hampshire writ large," said Simon Serfaty, director of the European Studies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But in Australia, the system is designed to reward those who score high, even if they are not the first choice of their rivals. Candidate A is not likely to attack Candidate B too fiercely if he hopes to collect B's supporters in subsequent elimination rounds. Israeli 'fix' thwarted But sometimes systems backfire. Israel's decision in 1996 to go to direct election of the prime minister was intended by its backers to create a stronger executive and a legislature less dominated by small, quarreling parties. But smaller parties still claim a large share of the seats in the Knesset. Political analysts say that Israeli voters, against expectations, have tended to focus their "sensible vote" on the prime minister's race while indulging their true political leanings in the Knesset. Despite the economic, military and cultural clout of the United States, the American election system remains a distinct outlier among the world's voting systems. No nation has copied the Electoral College, and only the United States, Britain, Canada and Jamaica elect legislators entirely through plurality contests in single-member districts. Other countries also tend to be more willing to change their national voting systems than the United States, where the last major alteration was a 1967 law approved by Congress forbidding states to use statewide e election to elect more than one House seat. Mr. Richie said, "People tend to pay a lot more attention to these questions overseas. You've had some very nasty fights." The Czech Supreme Court was called in last year to referee a dispute between President Vaclav Havel and the parliament over a bill that would have altered the country's proportional representation system. The bill was backed by both major parties. The court backed Mr. Havel.  world/20020429-75767982.htm Center for Voting and Democracy: and on why the Electoral College is useful:  biostate/bioregionEC_1-3.html Why the Electoral Congress is Important to Keep, and how to make it Popular and Geographic; -------------------- For a bioregional perspective on the electoral college, the electoral college is useful. Removing the electoral college will only make and engender more clientelistic relationships to unlocalized party politics and will allow the existing parties to further marginalize the geographic qualities of the vote. Proportional representation in the electoral college allows for both a sense of of the popular vote, nation wide, as well as allows for each states demographic of votes to matter in the electoral college. This will assure third parties in electoral and federal level politics. At issue as well is the way the majoritarian parties gerrymander their own districts, instead of actually allowing congressional districts. These districts are uncompetitive. Changing these is required. . . .  biostate/bioregionEC_1-3.html Towards a Bioregional State -------------------------------------- More Jewish Chauvinism (english) Israel Shamir 9:30pm Wed May 1 '02 (Modified on 11:31pm Wed May 1 '02) article#177626 Israel Shamir responds to Naomi Klein's Jewish chauvinism BINOCULARS OF MISS KLEIN (An open letter to Toronto Globe and Mail) By Israel Shamir Binoculars are a handy thing, usually used to enlarge small distant objects. But one may turn them other way around and turn a close and threatening object into a small and distant one. This procedure, usually a reserve of kids, was applied by Naomi Klein, the best-selling author of No Logo, in her letter to Toronto daily, Globe and Mail[i]. Under her magic pen, the most powerful group of people in North America, owners of almost all Canadian and the US media and of a sizeable chunk of real estate, was turned into a handful of fearful Jews hiding for their lives in a remote synagogue. It takes time to understand that she writes about people we know in the time we live through, not about some medieval event. Ms Klein writes: ìMost Jews are so frightened that they are now willing to do anything to defend Israeli policiesî. The second half is right. We know that most Jews are willing to do anything to defend and support and promote ethnic cleansing in Palestine. They are willing and doing it all the time. They booed down Paul Wolfowitz, the most bloodthirsty member of Neo-Liberal pack, for not being sufficiently bloodthirsty. In your average synagogue, they consider Sharon being a bit too kind-hearted man for his job, rather a closet Leftie. But fear does not enter this equation: nowadays the Jews have nothing to fear. They say and do what they want, without looking back. The Jewish tradition forbids mistreating a Goy, as long as such mistreatment can misfire and endanger a Jew. Apparently, now the Jews do not feel themselves threatened at all. A few days ago, I went to a Jewish solidarity gathering in Brighton Beach near New York. The Jews cheered Yvet Lieberman, an Israeli minister who left Sharon's government protesting Sharon's liberal approach. They spent a lot of money, put up screens and satellite links to proclaim their feelings unequivocally. One does not have to go to a public gathering: open any Jewish newspaper, from Israeli Haaretz to the American Jewish Week, and a stream of unadulterated hatred will hit you square in the face. It is not news: ten years ago, Danni Rubinstein, a liberal Israeli journalist, complained that the American Jews invariably support the most extreme nationalist forces in Israel. American Jews are not exclusion: the Jews of England and Russia are braying for the Goyiish blood, as well. A skilful apologist, Ms Klein prefers to explain away this criminal and culpable encouragement to mass murder by their fear. She would do a fine defence lawyer in Nuremberg. Indeed, who is not fearful? As Dr Nolte wrote, the Nazi atrocities were caused by their fear of Russian Communism. Communist atrocities were caused by their fear of imperialist aggression, etc. In other words, fear is not a defence. If they are afraid they can consult a shrink, not support genocide. Ms Klein builds a syllogism: Jews support Sharon because they are afraid, let us therefore fight anti-Semitism, and the problem will be solved. Alas, her conclusion is as weak as her premise Sharon does not use Jewish fear, he mobilizes Jewish chauvinism, including that of MsKlein. In her book, No Logo, she tells us that her activism began with defence of the rich Jews who were underrepresented at the board of their companies. It ended with the defence of Sharon's supporters. Now, most of the Jews speak with one voice, from '«left' Naomi Klein to 'right ' Barbara Amiel. For them, there is no Left, neither Right, just the Jewish ethnic interests. Ms Klein makes a lot of mileage out of some damaged synagogue. We have not heard from her and her friends a word of protest against the siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, or destruction of the ancient Green Mosque in Nablus. Not a word! I can imagine what would happen if a synagogue would be besieged and its occupants starved and shot as in Bethlehem. Klein would like us to care about synagogues. Synagogues are used to collect money for Sharon's offensive. Netanyahu and other monsters habitually speak in synagogues to their devotees. Should there be peace to synagogues and war to churches and mosques? Synagogues are not neutral, and Ms Klein admits it: ìAt my neighbourhood synagogueî, she writes, ìthe sign on the door says, "Support Israel . . . Now more than ever." Now ñ after the massacre of Jenin, after the attack on Bethlehem, after mass destruction of Ramallah and Hebron, they wish to support Israel more than ever. Without their support, Sharon would never commit his atrocities. Without their support, Israel would shrink to its natural size. In my opinion, these people should not be protected, as some wee little innocent group of religious believers. These powerful and influential men should be treated with extreme prejudice. There is no danger of racialist attacks on peaceful Jews, and it is good. The present level of intermarriage and social connections excludes such a possibility. Even Jean-Mari Le Pen has a Jewish son-in-law Samuel Marechal and very close Jewish friend Jean-Claude Martinez, both prominent members of FN. But the Jewish extra-territorial state, this extension of Israel overseas, should be pointed out as a perpetrator of atrocities. Israel Shamir Jaffa, Wednesday, April 24, 2002 Toronto Globe and mail Old hates fuelled by fear NAOMI KLEIN I knew from e-mail reports that something new was going on in Washington last weekend. A demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was joined by an antiwar march, as well as a demonstration against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. In the end, all the marches joined together in what organizers described as the largest Palestinian solidarity demonstration in U.S. history, 75,000 people by police estimates. On Sunday night, I turned on my television in the hope of catching a glimpse of this historic protest. I saw something else, instead: triumphant Jean-Marie Le Pen celebrating his newfound status as the second-most popular political leader in France. Ever since, I've been wondering whether the new alliance displayed on the streets can also deal with this latest threat. As a critic both of the Israeli occupation and of corporate-dictated globalization, it seems to me that the convergence that took place in Washington last weekend was long overdue. Despite easy labels like "antiglobalization," the trade-related protests of the past three years have all been about self-determination: the right of people everywhere to decide how best to organize their societies and economies, whether that means introducing land reform in Brazil, or producing generic AIDS drugs in India, or, indeed, resisting an occupying force in Palestine. When hundreds of globalization activists began flocking to Ramallah to act as "human shields" between Israeli tanks and Palestinians, the theory that has been developing outside trade summits was put into concrete action. Bringing that courageous spirit back to Washington, where so much Middle Eastern policy is made, was the next logical step. But when I saw Mr. Le Pen beaming on TV, arms raised in triumph, some of my enthusiasm drained away. There is no connection whatsoever between French fascism and the "free Palestine" marchers in Washington (indeed, the only people Mr. Le Pen's supporters seem to dislike more than Jews are Arabs). And yet, I couldn't help thinking about all the recent events I've been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, Ariel Sharon deservedly blasted, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and community centres. Or about the fact that every time I log onto activist news sites such as, which practise "open publishing," I'm confronted with a string of Jewish conspiracy theories about 9-11 and excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The globalization movement isn't anti-Semitic, it just hasn't fully confronted the implications of diving into the Middle East conflict. Most people on the left are simply choosing sides and in the Middle East, where one side is under occupation and the other has the U.S. military behind it, the choice seems clear. But it is possible to criticize Israel while forcefully condemning the rise of anti-Semitism. And it is equally possible to be pro-Palestinian independence without adopting a simplistic "pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel" dichotomy, a mirror image of the good-versus-evil equations so beloved by President George W. Bush. Why bother with such subtleties while bodies are still being pulled out of the rubble in Jenin? Because anyone interested in fighting Le Pen-style fascism or Sharon-style brutality has to deal with the reality of anti-Semitism head-on. The hatred of Jews is a potent political tool in the hands of the right in Europe and in Israel. For Mr. Le Pen, anti-Semitism is a windfall, helping spike his support from 10 per cent to 17 per cent in a week. For Ariel Sharon, it is the fear of anti-Semitism, both real and imagined, that is the weapon. Mr. Sharon likes to say that he stands up to terrorists to show he is not afraid. In fact, his policies are driven by fear. His great talent is that he fully understands the depths of Jewish fear of another Holocaust. He knows how to draw parallels between Jewish anxieties about anti-Semitism and American fears of terrorism. And he is an expert at harnessing all of it for his political ends. The primary, and familiar, fear that Mr. Sharon draws on, the one that allows him to claim all aggressive actions as defensive ones, is the fear that Israel's neighbours want to drive the Jews into the sea. The secondary fear Mr. Sharon manipulates is the fear among Jews in the Diaspora that they will eventually be driven to seek safe haven in Israel. This fear leads millions of Jews around the world, many of them sickened by Israeli aggression, to shut up and send their cheques, a down payment on future sanctuary. The equation is simple: The more fearful Jews are, the more powerful Mr. Sharon is. Elected on a platform of "peace through security," his administration could barely hide its delight at Mr. Le Pen's ascendancy, immediately calling on French Jews to pack their bags and come to the promised land. For Mr. Sharon, Jewish fear is a guarantee that his power will go unchecked, granting him the impunity needed to do the unthinkable: send troops into the Palestinian Authority's education ministry to steal and destroy records; bury children alive in their homes; block ambulances from getting to the dying. Jews outside Israel now find themselves in a tightening vise: The actions of the country that was supposed to ensure their future safety are making them less safe right now. Mr. Sharon is deliberately erasing distinctions between the terms "Jew" and "Israeli," claiming he is fighting not for Israeli territory but for the survival of the Jewish people. And when anti-Semitism rises at least partly as a result of his actions, it is Mr. Sharon who is positioned once again to collect the political dividends. And it works. Most Jews are so frightened that they are now willing to do anything to defend Israeli policies. So at my neighbourhood synagogue, where the humble facade was just badly scarred by a suspicious fire, the sign on the door doesn't say, "Thanks for nothing, Sharon." It says, "Support Israel . . . Now more than ever." There is a way out. Nothing is going to erase anti-Semitism, but Jews outside and inside Israel might be a little safer if there was a campaign to distinguish between diverse Jewish positions and the actions of the Israeli state. This is where an international movement can play a crucial role. Already, alliances are being made between globalization activists and Israeli "refuseniks," soldiers who refuse to serve their mandatory duty in the occupied territories. And the most powerful images from Saturday's protests were rabbis walking alongside Palestinians. But more needs to be done. It's easy for social-justice activists to tell themselves that since Jews already have such powerful defenders in Washington and Jerusalem, anti-Semitism is one battle they don't need to fight. This is a deadly error. It is precisely because anti-Semitism is used by the likes of Mr. Sharon that the fight against it must be reclaimed. When anti-Semitism is no longer treated as Jewish business, to be taken care of by Israel and the Zionist lobby, Mr. Sharon is robbed of his most effective weapon in the indefensible and increasingly brutal occupation. And as a bonus, whenever hatred of Jews diminishes, the likes of Jean-Marie Le Pen shrink right down with it. Naomi Klein is author of No Logo. ============= Israel Shamir (english) Mahakaal 11:31pm Wed May 1 '02 comment#177654 I absolutely love this guy's work. He is brutal in his honesty. I wish muslims could have an honest a writer as him. ------------------------------------ GEORGE MONBIOT: HOW TO FIX GLOBALIZATION (english) George Monbiot 6:55am Wed May 1 '02 article#177460 Real solutions to our global dilemna. Its long but worth the read. Governing Globalisation An interview with George Monbiot, by Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy George Monbiot, the leading environmental activist and writer, has been involved in many global campaigns of resistance to corporate and state power. But what positive social and political vision animates his work? Where does it contrast with that of globalisation' advocates like Maria Cattaui, Peter Sutherland, and George Soros? And how does he see the future of the internationalist movement in the light of the '˜war on terrorism'? (v. long) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Caspar Henderson '“ openDemocracy has opened a debate on globalisation. It has held two openInterviews, first with Maria Cattaui, who heads the International Chamber of Commerce, and then adiscussion between Peter Sutherland, who founded the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and is now Chairman of BP and heads Goldman Sachs International, and the British politician and scholar, Shirley Williams. They share a vision of globalisation which sees institutions like the WTO as part of a global, rules-based system. One that helps rich and poor alike through economic growth. What do you understand by '˜globalisation'? George Monbiot '“ Globalisation is a problematic term which has come to mean whatever people want it to mean. This vagueness creates a special problem for what is called the '˜anti-globalisation' movement, which is often perceived as something it isn't. It is portrayed, quite wrongly, as being in favour of autarchy and separation, rather than the sort of internationalism which has always been a feature of progressive politics. I was struck when reading both Peter Sutherland' and Maria Cattaui' interviews by the extent to which they remain trapped within current models and definitions '“ of how the world is rather than how it could be. They appear to expect miracles from institutions which have an extremely limited mandate. Take the WTO, for example. In 1944, the original intention of the Bretton Woods conference was to create an International Trade Organisation. Its purposes would have been to assist free trade, but also to help poor countries towards economic prosperity, through technology transfer, defending labour standards and improving their trade balance. In the event, all these functions except one '“ free trade '“ were effectively ruled out by US business objections. As a result, we ended up with a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was meant to be an interim solution, pending a much wider agreement. At the time, it was widely recognised that simply implementing free trade measures without also acting to generate prosperity in the poor world was not going to deliver economic justice. This fundamental problem has yet to be resolved. GATT turned into the World Trade Organisation, and the ITO' original objectives have been forgotten. The WTO is a flawed mechanism for delivering prosperity to the poorest countries '“ flawed because it discharges only one of the important functions envisaged at the beginning. The stages of development CH '“ But aren't parts of your analysis shared by Cattaui and Sutherland? For example, Sutherland talks about a driving need for advanced countries to achieve a minimum target of 0.7 per cent GDP in development aid as a starting-point. The UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, is calling for a big increase in aid transfers from the rich industrial countries. Isn't this a broadly similar recognition to yours, that we need to move towards a more progressive, rules-based global system? GM '“ I am certainly in favour of increasing the aid budget, if only in order to plug part of the massive gap left by the failure of the Bretton Woods institutions. The original vision for an ITO was to regulate the international economy so that poor countries could survive and prosper, rather than relying on handouts from the first world. The fact that now, fifty seven years later, we are still talking about having to increase aid for the poor world, demonstrates the terrible failure of the reliance on free trade to create wealth. Regulatory failure always leads to public expenditure. CH '“ Against this, Sutherland would say that poor governance (including the colonial inheritance) in areas like Africa has contributed to their current problems; while open systems and effective regulation in areas like south-east Asia have helped to deliver substantial prosperity. These are both negative and positive reasons for participating in an open system of international trade. GM '“ Well, it would be extraordinary to put the Asian economic miracle down to free trade alone. The countries which prospered most, up until the 1997-98 crash, had followed a three-step process to development. The first was massive land reform and distribution. Japan, Taiwan and Korea experienced the effective dismantling of feudal landed power by war, and instituted a systematic program of land reform, leading to a great redistribution of wealth. Second, this was accompanied by protectionist help for local and national businesses. Third, only after those two factors precipitated very strong internal growth were their economies exposed to the free market which Peter proposes. The problem today is that we are requiring poor countries to cut out stages one and two and go straight to stage three. But unless you first build up the wealth of local communities and business, people simply cannot compete with multinational capital. When the latter moves in, they have no basis for competition. So in Russia for example, with the blessing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), virtually all effective business and financial regulation was removed and the economy fell into the hands of either foreign capital or indigenous Mafiosi. The future is Keynesian CH '“ Doesn't Maria Cattaui agree on this point? She says: 'All over south-east Asia countries are stronger than they were in the 1960' despite the '97-98 financial crisis, but we forget that the policies were not laissez-faire policies. They were strongly government inspired. More recently they have become less government oriented. Why? Because we know that the kind of subsidies they used eventually didn't work and they made industries uncompetitive. We know now that Korea has moved on, but the developed world did exactly the same thing. One must always understand the purpose of a subsidy.'In other words, there are stages in economic development. Isn't this a shared acceptance that this a multi-step process and that countries need to come into this globalised economy on their own terms? GM '“ I find it extraordinary that Maria accepts that this is how those once poor nations achieved fabulous wealth, but then rules this out as a prescription for the many countries which remain poor today. But perhaps more importantly, both she and Peter are putting the burden of change onto the host governments whose economies are failing. While there' no question that many such governments have managed their economies poorly, to say that all the failings of poor countries are down to poor governance at the domestic level is a grotesque insult to the people of those countries. First, many of the countries we chastise for incompetent economic management are effectively run by the IMF. Economic management has little to do with the government itself '“ it has been reduced to having to implement IMF policies. If those policies have failed, it' hard to see why we should lay responsibility for this at the door of the impoverished national governments. Second, there is really nowhere for many poor countries to go. To develop they need basic infrastructure. But they are trapped in a cycle of under-investment. Because they don't have good roads, schools and hospitals, their economic position continues to deteriorate, which then makes it in turn impossible to generate the money to build those things. Their only option is to increase public spending. Yet they're not allowed to increase public spending because the IMF and World Bank prevent them from doing so. Their whole economy is effectively re-oriented, by those two institutions, towards the extraction of resources and wealth in order to pay grotesque levels of debt for which the lenders should be blamed and which were often obtained in the first place by corruption. By all means criticise corrupt governments in poor countries but shouldn't we also blame the corruptors? We have to re-examine not just the WTO as an institution but also the World Bank and IMF. They are the wrong set of institutions to bring about positive, global economic change. There are two reasons for this. First, they are entirely controlled by the creditor nations. The countries in which they operate have no control over their operations. That is extremely unfair; it' a glaring democratic deficit. Second, their role is in effect to police debt. They are the bailiffs of world economy. They are not there to restore a balance of trade, but to enforce the imbalance of trade. What we need instead is something like the international clearing union that John Maynard Keynes proposed during the Second World War, which puts an equal onus on creditors and debtors to clear debt: a self-correcting global economic system, as opposed to a system run by the creditor nations in their own interests. CH '“ How would that work? GM '“ Keynes' idea was simple. He devised a self-correcting world trade system, which irons out its own imbalances. The idea was that international transactions be conducted not in national currencies like the dollar, but in an international currency, which he called the bancor. That currency would be held by a central bank called the International Clearing Union. It would impose the same rate of interest on creditors as it imposed on debtors. So if a country was one hundred million bancors in either credit or in debt, it would pay the same rate of interest. The beauty of this arrangement is that it would give creditor nations an incentive either to adjust the value of their national currencies against the bancor, or to reinvest massively by buying far more of the debtor country' products. So debt would be a transient phenomenon '“ not the cumulative, compounding problem it has become. Keynes came to Bretton Woods with this proposal. He predicted that the contrasting US proposal for an international stabilisation fund (which gave rise to the IMF) and a World Bank would lead to massive endemic debt, the continued impoverishment of the poor world, and the growing power and wealth of the rich world, particularly the United States. The US threatened that if Britain persisted in pushing Keynes' idea it would withhold its war loan. Britain backed down, Keynes' prediction came true. Today, we need to re-examine Keynes' proposal and look at re-shaping the global economic architecture in a very radical way. Making the powerful respond CH '“ As you have described it, Keynes came up against the reality of US power in the early 1940s. The US is the world' biggest economy with twenty-five per cent of world GDP, huge military programmes and enormous financial power. How would you overcome US interests where Keynes failed? GM '“ Well, parts of the world are now in a much stronger position than the British were in 1944. The EU is a very powerful trading bloc. And if it combined with some major developing economies they would have considerable clout. It would not be easy. Confronting power never is. But that is the perennial challenge faced by anyone involved in progressive politics. CH '“ Here, you express a certain hope in the potential of the EU. But elsewhere, you accuse the EU of being in the pockets of Europe' big corporations. For example, you have been very critical of the European Round Table of Industrialists. So why should the EU do what the US doesn't want it to do? GM '“ The EU will only do what the US doesn't want it to do if its own population demands this. Our governments are only as good as our willingness to criticise and embarrass them. No political system guarantees democracy. A system is only as good as the capacity of its critics to confront it. A new voice in world trade CH '“ At Doha the WTO succeeded in coming to an agreement. It is hugely complex, but many observers feel that it is significant for at least one reason: that some of the developing countries have achieved some gains with respect to both the European Union and the United States. On intellectual property rights, the US appears to have given important ground, not least because of its current problems with anthrax. The EU appears to have made concessions on agriculture; it' possible that some of its subsidies will eventually be dismantled. Since the dumping of very cheap food by the EU in developing countries damages indigenous farming economies, this would be an enormous gain. In the realpolitik of world power, countries like India are beginning to assert themselves, the Chinese have become members of the WTO, and the Russians will be in. We see developing countries, or at least their governments, that are keen on the WTO as part of the solution. This may shift the balance of power, making it more even between the developed and developing countries '“ or at least a real negotiation. Isn't this progress with respect to the WTO? GM '“ There' no question that some of the developing countries, India in particular, have developed a more effective negotiating power at the WTO than they had before, and they have proved themselves to be savvy and effective negotiators. They've done well to fight off a crude attempt by the 'quad'(the US, Canada, Japan and the EU) to impose a first world agenda on the world trade talks. But it' far too early to predict what the outcome of this new round is going to be. Most of the promises made in the last, Uruguay, round haven't been kept. We have yet to see what the real outcome with agriculture will be. Perhaps even more importantly, the first world countries may continue to load the agenda with new issues '“ investment, services and government procurement, for example '“ which make it much harder for developing countries to get their needs addressed. What we've seen in Doha is the positive power of the poor world making itself felt, possibly for the first time in over fifty years. And that' definitely welcome. But, as I stated at the outset, we must remember that the WTO is dealing with only one aspect of the global economy, and is institutionally incapable of resolving the imbalance of trade. What sort of globalisation? CH '“ In the face of such criticism, people want to know how to we get from here to there. Take George Soros, for example. He shares some of your analysis. The challenge facing the poorest countries, he argued in a Project Syndicate Glasgow Herald article published shortly before Doha, 'is not really the WTO but the lack of similar powerful and effective institutions devoted to other social goals'. And he says he means education, health, and the building of 'human capital'. 'Enforcement of rules'at the WTO, he goes on, is 'not appropriate for achieving social goals because many countries lack the resources to meet international standards. Rather than imposing requirements it would be better to provide resources to enable poor countries to comply on a voluntary basis instead of introducing a rule prohibiting child labour. We ought to provide for universal primary education'. Also, a key point, 'the order of precedence should change between the WTO and the national laws, national laws should take precedence'. Second, he argues that 'the WTO may have overreached itself when it comes to intellectual property''“ a view shared even by Jagdish Bhagwati, the doyen of free trade economists. And third, Soros believes that the agreement on trade-related investment should be re-negotiated to allow support for home-grown small and medium enterprises. If there is indeed a shared perspective here between Soros and yourself, how would one take forward these proposals? What sort of globalisation, accepting your caveats about the word, are we looking for? How far should government cede sovereignty to international organisations? How far should they retain it, and what other mechanisms are necessary for proper democratic involvement? GM '“ Right, you've just asked me about eight questions there, each of them requiring several days to answer! Many of Soros' points are well taken, but in discussing regulation, we need to go beyond the regulation of government behaviour with regard to trade. We need also to talk about the regulation of corporations. A great mistake of the Western powers, whether the European Union or people like Maria and Peter, has been to discuss environmental issues as if only governments should be held to account. On the issues of the environment, human rights, labour standards, consumer protection, health and safety in the workplace, we must be able to hold multinational corporations to account. They are effectively unregulated at the global level. They are not subject to the human rights standards we expect of governments. When they dispose of operations which present environmental or health liabilities, they don't have to pick up the tab. If we are to move towards re-balancing global trade, we need effective regulation of corporations. That requires a sort of mirror WTO, whose purpose is to say what companies can and can't do. This can only work at the global level. If you try to set a high rate of corporation tax in one country, for example, the big companies will just clear off to Thailand. A global level of corporation tax would prevent this. The same applies to environmental, health and safety, and consumer protection rules. Incidentally, as well as a global rate of corporation tax, I'd also like to see a global maximum wage, where no-one in a multinational corporation can earn more than eight or ten times the salary of the lowest paid member of their work-force or sub-contractors. That would be a powerful incentive to raise the pay of those at the bottom. This answers only a tiny part of the great range of questions. Like George Soros I want to see practical measures but I want a different world order, rather than just the present one working a little better. CH '“ Is the difference so clear cut? Maria Cattaui agrees that corporations are not effectively regulated in many markets. But she points to the way that international opinion that can be brought to bear on corporations. Shell in Nigeria and Nike in Indonesia might be cited here. And Peter Sutherland argues that the power of corporations is greatly overestimated; he thinks it is actually shrinking. GM '“ Well, let' look at Britain. Since the early 1990s we have seen the private finance initiative (PFI), a mechanism both Conservative and New Labour governments have used to contract out the building of hospitals and schools to the private sector in return for long-term rent payments, thus placing an enormous financial burden on citizens for the next generation and more. In the words of one of its architects, this is 'the Heineken of privatisation, reaching parts of the government machine not reached by previous privatisations'. It involves a far more ambitious corporate project than has ever been launched in Britain before. It' leading to the demolition of universal social provision, and the capture of the public sector by corporate service providers. This represents an empowerment of multinational capital which corporations could have only dreamt of ten or twenty years ago. And what we are seeing in Britain is taking place worldwide. To suggest that corporate power is weakening is simply laughable. A new model of global governance CH '“ But at least Peter Sutherland has worked for the sharing of sovereignty and redistribution within the EU. When he says this will take a long time on a global level, isn't he right to argue that you have to be realistic about the context in which you operate? The ideal of a universal global corporation tax is very far off being achieved. GM '“ Well, let' just examine this term 'realistic'. Is it realistic to expect poor nations to pay off debts which sometimes exceed the size of their GDP? Is it realistic that the World Bank and IMF can improve the economies of poor countries, rather than continue to wreck them? Is it realistic that free trade measures alone will continue to deliver economic justice? Is it realistic that corporations can regulate themselves? Is it realistic that without proper global governance the voices of the poor will be consistently and effectively heard? If we are looking at realistic measures we have to transform completely the political and economic models of global governance. If the term 'realistic'is taken to mean achievable, then these changes are indeed achievable with sufficient political will. But if we just look at how we can survive within the current economic model, we are going to achieve nothing at all. You have to start with what' desirable. And this, I think, means a complete transformation in global governance. At the moment there is a massive democratic deficit at the global level. Key decisions are taken, informally of course, but still taken, by the G8. Eight men representing thirteen per cent of the world' population. The five permanent members of the world' security council, who happen also to be the world' biggest arms dealers, each have a veto on the decisions the security council takes. The UN General Assembly which is meant to be the seat of global governance is a wholly undemocratic body. We have just seen an outcry here in the UK about the fact that Blair has decided that the members of the House of Lords will be appointed rather than elected. And yet we hear no similar outcry about the fact that all our UN ambassadors are appointed rather than elected, and they tend to be close to their security services and very distant from their populations. What we need to see is something along the lines of a world parliament, with representatives directly elected on the basis of population, so that governments are bypassed, and so that a resident of Kinshasa has as much power on the global stage as a resident of Kensington in London. I'm not talking about taking power away from governments, I'm talking about democratising the powers which already exist at the international level and which a handful of governments have grabbed for themselves. CH '“ But how would this work? How are the Chinese people, for example, going to persuade their government to allow them to participate directly in a world parliament, bypassing the structures and organs of the Communist Party of the People' Republic? GM '“ Well, this is part of the great challenge to global democracy but at the moment we're fudging the issues of both power and representation. We allow a few governments to decide what should happen on behalf of the rest of the world, and to appoint people who govern internationally. How do we bypass the Chinese government, or indeed our own government, to set up structures of global governance at the international level which don't rely on domestic governments? In principle it is simple. We proceed without them, and gradually attempt to accumulate moral authority by establishing structures whose representatives can be directly elected. By accumulating moral authority you then remove it from those who have grabbed power on the international stage. CH '“ During the English Civil War and Revolution, in the seventeenth century, Oliver Cromwell, who had overthrown the English monarchy, was frustrated by the venal behaviour of the elected Parliament. He replaced it with the Parliament of Saints, who were people directly connected to God' will '“ good, ordinary people with wonderful names like 'Praisegod Barebones'. The result was a disaster and he then ended up as, in effect, a dictator. My point is that there is a long history of well-meaning schemes. In Europe it' taken many hundreds of years for an educated population to emerge with sophisticated political consciousness and resources. And we're still finding it very hard to achieve democratic governance on a European level. To declare a world parliament where all good and righteous people can meet together may be a laudable goal, but aren't there many intermediate steps needed first? For example, don't the Chinese need to become more prosperous, and be healthier and better educated and get democracy and a civil society at home before they can effectively participate in international governance? GM '“ The Parliament of Saints is in fact precisely what we have in the form of the UN General Assembly. These are all the ' good and the great 'appointed as UN ambassadors by their governments, without any democratic credentials whatever. This is the disastrous parliament which leads effectively to the dictatorship of the G8, because of its evident democratic failings. I think that some sort of representative body set up from the grass roots could itself become a very powerful democratising force. A truly democratic body at the world level which grows from below and provides an alternative to show what real democracy might look like, would have a huge impact. Wouldn't the people in China, who were participating in that, then seek to overthrow their undemocratic governments in favour of something better? add your own comments