Facing Facts

Fintan O’Toole unloads on Michael Lowry:

A country still in thrall to the likes of Lowry – The Irish Times – Tue, Apr 21, 2009

There is a wider issue here that O’Toole scarcely refers to here, which is how much the Irish economy depends on the machinations of transnational corporations that want to avoid paying tax, which morally speaking is like a hundred million Michael Lowrys. And it is far more than the ‘handful’ of jobs he refers to here. I had a look at CSO stats for turnover for service industry firms in ‘Computer and related activities’. Firms with a turnover of €5,000,000 and over generated a total of €14bn turnover in Ireland in 2006. That works out at €702,000 turnover for each person working in those firms. Go figure.

Yes, Michael Lowry is a lowdown dirty rat, and yes the prominent members of the public who eat cocktail sausages in his company are of morally dubious character too, but one of the frustrating things about O’Toole is how he gets hung up on matters of individual character, virtue and vice. I mean, of course they’re all a pack of dirtbirds, but the cute hoorism isn’t the point. Sure, there may be some arresting considerations around how what might once have been a strategy of the colonial subject to outwit the master is now a strategy used by a substantial portion of the ruling class to efface class antagonisms. Yet all we’re talking about here is capitalism with an Irish face, but O’Toole is in thrall to the face.

As a general rule, we should approach complaints about ‘crony capitalism’ in the same way as we might approach complaints about ‘crony fascism’.


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