Why a left government must challenge capitalism?

As the political crisis of the establishment deepens and support for the Left rises, the question of a Left government will increasingly be posed. Paul Murphy, Anti Austerity Alliance TD, asks what such a government would do.

A genuine Left government is one that would break with the rule of profit. It would make a political choice to put the essential needs of working class people before the profits of big business and set out to restructure society along democratic socialist lines.

Repudiate the debt

A key measure would be to repudiate the debt. Next year, one in every five euros collected in taxes will go to pay interest on the national debt, which ballooned because of the bank bailout and the capitalist crisis. An immediate moratorium on debt repayments would be imposed. A debt audit commission, made up of representatives of working people and Left economists, would be initiated to ensure that debt to bankers, bondholders and institutions like the IMF and European Central Bank is repudiated, while pensioners and others with proven need are repaid.

Invest in jobs

In order to get people back to work and to tackle urgent social problems, a major public investment programme would be needed. For example, a €7 billion investment in building homes could build 40,000 homes and create 70,000 jobs. Similar initiatives in insulation, water infrastructure, renewable energy and other areas would yield immediate benefits for society and the economy.

The stranglehold of the banks and financial institutions would have to be broken by turning them into democratically run public utilities. These could provide access to credit to small businesses and farmers and write down mortgages to the true value of homes.

Challenge the rule of the 1%

The ongoing collapse of private sector investment could be tackled through taking the key sections of the economy, together with natural resources, into public ownership under workers’ control and management. Such a move would enable a plan to be developed democratically to redevelop the economy on an economically and environmentally sustainable basis.

These radical measures, which challenge the rule of the 1% in Irish society, would not go unanswered. The capitalist class in Ireland and internationally would undoubtedly try to force the collapse of the government and the reversal of any gains. At the very least, a Left government would face fines and other sanctions imposed by the European Commission, a likely threat to force Ireland out of the euro, as well as a threat of a withdrawal of Foreign Direct Investment. The existing state apparatus, the police, and the “permanent government” of senior civil servants would work to undermine progressive changes.

Mass struggle from below needed

Any Left government could not therefore just rest on a formal majority in Dáil Éireann, but would have to work for major mobilisations from below, including protests and general strikes. Such mass activity of working class and young people at a workplace and community level could become the outline of how a genuinely democratic society could be developed.  The mass assemblies in Greece developed two years ago in the course of the major struggle against the Troika illustrate how this could happen.

International solidarity

A Left government would also have to make appeals to working class people across Europe – not to allow sanctions to be imposed for breaking with austerity, but also to also to go along the same road. Invariably, the context in which a Left government would come to power in Ireland would be one of major struggles elsewhere in Europe. This would pose the possibility of forming a federation of socialist states within Europe, as part of a struggle for building a socialist Europe.

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