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Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.
- Albert Einstein

 


My reply in my own words

 

Karen Lyden Cox
04/13/02

 

1. In reply to Paul Fitzsimmons' Could a new economic model alone resolve Northern Ireland’s social woes?, submitted in response to The Op(posi)tion to the Status Quo, by Karen Cox, which was my response to the Fitzsimmons and Gorman exchange.

KAREN: I did not state "a new economic model alone will resolve Northern Ireland's social woes".

Could drastic economic changes improve the social condition? If you recognize that the economic system in place (worldwide) affects people's lives negatively, changing it in the right ways could resolve a lot of social ills, in Northern Ireland just as elsewhere.

"Allocation to waste and warfare instead of social wages and welfare does not happen because capitalists are sadists or mired in some outdated mindset of the past. They do not spend money on useless missiles, or on systems to thwart their workers’ initiative, or on cleaning up preventable messes, because they enjoy seeing poor people suffer for want of proper housing, health care, or education, or because they are in the habit of doing it and can’t break out. By the same token, there is no way that they are interested in seeing all these funds applied to mitigating social ills. A self-centered, socially oblivious outlook is imposed by nearly every aspect of corporate life. As a result, capitalists care about everyone else’s condition only insofar as everyone else’s condition bears on their profits and power. To give the public good housing, education, health care, and protection against want would make society’s worst off much better off, and it would, as a by product, dramatically alter the balance of power between labor and capital, threatening capital’s ability to scarf up profits." - Michael Albert

"In the minds of many people, growth has become synonymous with increase in wealth. They say that we must have growth to be rich enough to afford the cost of cleaning up and curing poverty. That all problems are easier to solve if we are richer is not in dispute. What is at issue is whether growth at the present margin really makes us richer. There is evidence that in the US it now makes us poorer by increasing costs faster than it increases benefits (Daly and Cobb, 1989, appendix). In other words we appear to have grown beyond the optimal scale." - Herman Daly, Kenneth Townsend

"But industry still operates by the same rules, using more resources to make fewer people more productive. The consequence: massive waste -- of both resources and people. Decades from now, we may look back at the end of the 20th century and ponder why business and society ignored these trends for so long -- how one species thought it could flourish while nature ebbed. Historians will show, perhaps, how politics, the media, economics, and commerce created an industrial regime that wasted our social and natural environment and called it growth." - Paul Hawken


2. Paul Fitzsimmons: "Ms. Cox also suggests, perhaps accurately, that “The Blanket is open to all people who have opinions to voice, lengthy or brief, whatever they desire. The only prerequisite is a pen or a keyboard, and, hopefully, the understanding that thoughtful contributions are valued[.]”

Yet, while all men and women may indeed be created equal in the sight of God and all are equal, for various legal purposes, in the eyes of some civil societies, most assuredly all ideas are not created equal. Some ideas are good, some are bad, and some are so nebulous as to fall less into the category of “idea” than into the category of 'vague aspiration or mere daydream'."

KAREN: Irish newspapers and websites in America and in Ireland have refused my words because I questioned the current Irish republican leadership. The Blanket does not reject submissions that might be considered dangerous ideas or novel ideas and that is why I said (not "suggest") that The Blanket is open to all people with thoughtful contributions. The word 'thoughtful' is my own wording, not theirs.

You relegated my comments to the category of "vague aspiration or mere daydream", unworthy of being ideas. Yours is the reaction some people have to unfamiliar information which makes them feel insecure and which conflicts with their occupations or special interests, and when they are in too much of a hurry to let someone else talk.

Similarly: "Recall the comment of Jeff Greenfield, who used to be on Nightline. He explained why they wouldn't have me on. He said there were two reasons. First of all, I'm from Neptune. Secondly, I lack concision. I agree with him. In my two minutes and thirty seconds, I must have sounded to a reasonable listener as if I were from Neptune. There was no context, no background, no evidence, and it was completely different from everything they were hearing. The rational response is, "This guy must be from Neptune." That's correct. It leaves you with very simple choices: Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody else is spouting, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune. [emphasis] Concision requires that there be no evidence. The flood of unanimous doctrine ensures that it will sound as if it's off the wall." - Noam Chomsky

So, Mr. Fitzsimmons, you have concluded I am nebulous, possibly Neptunian. I'm not surprised that you chose to do that.


3. Paul Fitzsimmons: "Perhaps in that last vein, Ms. Cox ends her article by opining:

The driving force to change is coming from outside governments and their allies, from within Ireland and outside of Ireland, making the debate of a 6 and 26 versus a 32-county republic secondary to the establishment of ethical economies which are democratic and answerable to their local communities, which provide people in communities with good working conditions and a decent livelihood, which award productive behavior and not massive production, and which function in balance with the natural world. Why? Simply because it has to.

Putting to one side, just for a moment, what these “democratic economy” ambitions actually and specifically entail, one might ask, could those ambitions be fulfilled - vis-à-vis “the Irish question” - within the current constitutional/political structures in Ireland and Britain?"

KAREN: I did not discuss constitutions in my short article.

Could these - what you call "democratic ambitions" - be fulfilled within the current constitutional and political structures in Ireland and Britain? No, that's part of the problem. In N. Ireland and elsewhere they aren't being fulfilled, not on a large enough scale, and people aren't happy about that.

Irish republicans like myself desire a 32-county re-unified Ireland. You support a 6-county Ulster. Either way, the debate is irrelevant if the same economic policies - or worse - are carried over into the new Ireland. With politicians backed by Big Money (incidentally, that is not a coincidence) and workers in the economy of transnational corporations and international banking, the picture will not be better than it is now.

In your letter to The Blanket in which you outline your plan, INDEPENDENCE FOR NORTHERN IRELAND: WHY AND HOW, and similarly in your book, Independence for Northern Ireland: Why and How?, by Paul A Fitzsimmons. The Juris Press, Washington DC, USA:1993, reviewed at Ulster Nation: A Third Way For Ulster at http://www.ulsternation.org.uk/ you make the point: "Third, Britain, perhaps with the assistance of others, could ensure that a new Northern Ireland state would remain financially viable through long-term continuation of economic subventions such as the North has received for many decades as a part of the UK. (Such subventions - it should be remembered -would unquestionably continue, even without independence, for many decades.)" [emphasis]

"Economic subventions", or the state welfare system, or the dole queue is part of the reason for the ever-widening disparity between classes. State welfare is not a financially viable system. The costs to the state and taxpayers are enormous and these costs include the sometimes unmentioned costs of 'repair' - currently, social programs including drug abuse counseling, and increasingly, human warehousing in jails and prisons. Human warehousing is one of the most massive and profitable industries in the world. Profitable for who? The human cost is enormous, a "social ill".

The advantage is to employers in the current system; high unemployment puts workers at job risk giving employers (not employees) more bargaining power, increases overtime, and lowers pay.

For practical reasons, the taxpayers of Britain don't want to continue to support the welfare state and Britain's staggering economy is increasingly burdened by this cost.

Why must it continue unquestionably?


4. Paul Fitzsimmons: "Putting to one side, just for a moment, what these “democratic economy” ambitions actually and specifically entail, one might ask, could those ambitions be fulfilled - vis-à-vis “the Irish question” - within the current constitutional/political structures in Ireland and Britain?"

"If the answer is yes - as might be inferred from Ms. Cox’s “secondary” reference - one might next ask whether any constitutional/political change in that regard would ever be necessary."

"Perhaps the response would simply be: 'Let’s first get a ‘democratic economy’ up and running, then we’ll worry about whether and/or how to change the constitutional/political status quo'.”

KAREN: My answer is "No" to the first paragraph as stated above in #3. But you answered "yes" for me in your article without asking me the question. Then you decided how I would think based on your answer for me. Your discussion and conclusions following that are based on your speaking and thinking for me.


5. Paul Fitzsimmons: "However, that conclusion would put squarely into focus what these “democratic economy” ambitions in fact are and how they might help the overall situation. One could only be sympathetic to the notions of “provid[ing] people in communities with good working conditions and a decent livelihood,” “award[ing] productive behavior,” and “function[ing] in balance with the natural world,” but what does all that mean in concrete terms? What actual and specific elements does Ms. Cox endorse for “ethical” and “democratic” economies?"

KAREN: Putting "the notions" into practice requires cutting through the lies more than sympathy. First, people have to realize there is a problem and then they have to be clear about what causes the problem to continue unabated.

When I said "establishment of ethical economies which are democratic and answerable to their local communities", I was referring to the fact that in the corporate economy, instructions come from the top down through managers. Control does not come from workers having a say in what they are doing and a say in how the results of their efforts are distributed. In that way, corporations are not democratic, they are tyrannical. Corporations that draw on local economies (labor force, natural resources, tax subsidy, etc.) must be made to be answerable to the people in communities where they do business, that is, where they employ, where they 'unemploy', where their workers produce, where they pollute.

In that same paragraph I said "which provide people in communities with good working conditions and a decent livelihood, which award productive behavior and not massive production, and which function in balance with the natural world". What those words mean is self-explanatory. The concepts are being practiced although the implementation is on too small of a scale right now.

The legacy of the Industrial Revolution is a techno-industrial regime of massive waste and inefficiency, both social waste and environmental waste. The fact that we live in a closed ecological system which is rapidly reaching its limits, and in a human system which is destroying itself, has determined that "change must come" - if we want to continue. "As our living systems deteriorate, traditional forecasting and business economics become the equivalent of house rules on a sinking cruise ship." - Paul Hawken

People in every aspect of society continue to work toward that change even if their efforts are not well-known or yet effective on a worldwide scale. People are active - some quietly, and that includes being active in educating themselves and others - within Ireland and outside of Ireland. They will not be deterred by skepticism or scorn.



 

 

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