Following a detailed discussion between Dr. Matt Treacy and Peter Ryan on the nationalist economics of the revolutionary movement in the twentieth century my mind naturally wandered to the system which we should espouse as Nationalists ourselves – as a distinctive third force that was neither Anglo-liberalism or Marxism.
While we can use the name of Friedrich List and other theorists, we must be able to put into words what that system is. It is easy to see the false dichotomy between libertarian and Communist, that everything either belongs to someone, or everything belongs to everyone. Theorising the third force as something other than spineless “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” is the challenge.
We recognise the dichotomy as being false because we as Nationalists should understand the human drive to provide for one’s family and community and to recognise reward for success, and we must also recognise where such crosses from being a responsibility to becoming avarice and greed.
The important critique is in my view the one against the prevailing ideology – that of Anglo-liberalism. Liberalism’s proponents essentially draw from the theorising of Adam Smith, whose work is replete with nonsense.
In Smith’s heyday there was a fad of wanting to put mathematics to everything and so Smith’s “proofs” that free trade works strives to have mathematical “logic” on its side. Foremost among them are the ideas of “absolute advantage” and “comparative advantage.”
In Smith’s model each country should produce the one good it is best at producing and nothing else and to trade for the rest, in order to maximise the total goods produced.
Rather than explaining this in detail in this post (because it’s boring and childish), you can read about them here and here. The fallacies underpinning them should become plain to see very quickly – that there are more than two countries and two types of goods, and people changing fields of production won’t produce at the same rate as the more experienced/original producers.
It was this critique which the Prussians adopted in furtherance of their industrialisation. When told by the British that they (and everyone else) would be better off if the Germans remained agricultural and traded food for British industrial products, the Prussians simply retorted that they had no intention of being the agricultural lackeys of the British.
Britain had only become such an industrial State in the first place through a mixture of autarky and protectionism – from protecting their loom trade, corn production, or any other number of such industries from continental competitors over centuries.
In ignoring this Anglo-liberal dogma and pursuing nationalist industrial policies, the Germans became the emergent imperial superpower through the late nineteenth and early/mid twentieth centuries. The Soviets followed likewise after the abandonment of their strict orthodoxy.
The German playbook was adopted by the Chinese in the middle of the last century and now they are the second largest economy on the planet, with no signs of reversing their ascent.
We will hear that these are outmoded beliefs and that Ireland is unable to promulgate the same policies but this is, in my view, unambitious laziness. Ireland may never become a global power, but Ireland can always be a stronger version of herself.
We will hear that such policies will cause widespread unemployment and we will become the sick man of Europe if the multinationals leave – and undoubtedly we would if we remained wedded to the idea of free market capitalism. The failures of the Governments which succeeded the second Dáil were not down to the failings of the theory, but the failings of men and vested interests. Where the State pursued such radical policies it was successful – the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric plant took up a fifth of the State’s budget but provided enough electricity to power the entire country. Facing rolling blackouts over the coming years, who would say such radicalism would be missed today?
The multinational sector in Ireland provides employment and corporation taxes we are told – and certainly they do! Yet how many of the roughly quarter of a million workers are Irish? When Google allowed their workers to work from home during the pandemic a third of them left the country. If we are worried about how a bank balance looks we should do away with the whole charade of sovereignty and independence and let the penny pinchers of the world run our lives.
MNCs are great for a balance sheet but not for a community. What self-respecting Nationalist would look upon a foreign company with a foreign workforce and say “Yes, this is the Ireland I want”? Companies whose presence here is temporary and transient, predicated upon using SPVs and low tax rates?
In the world of international business, capital and companies go where the best returns are – and what do we get in return for these leprechaun economics? We get household income on par with central Europe and living costs on par with Scandinavia. The corrosive effects of MNCs and dodgy tax dealings gives an untrue presentation of Ireland’s economic forecast – we were forced into using neither GNP or GDP to measure “domestic” economics but a modified version. “In August 2018, the Central Statistics Office (Ireland) (CSO) restated table of Irish GDP versus Modified GNI (2009–2017) showed GDP was 162% of GNI* (EU–28 2017 GDP was 100% of GNI).”
What then should we propose? The expropriation of foreign companies’ assets? State socialism? No.
We should look to previous incarnations of Irish nationalist economics like Comhar na gComharsan and update them, to blend mercantilism and nationalism. Nationalise industries of national strategic interest, establish profit-seeking semi-State companies in industries of general interest, and allow the markets to function in everything else.
We cannot afford to nationalise everything and we shouldn’t have any interest in doing so – who truly thinks we should be nationalising strawberry production? State-owned industries should be those which are natural monopolies such as energy, infrastructure and transport, while the State should take on either a minority-stake or majority-stake with a profit focus on other industries of interest like the pharmaceutical industry or ICT. Industries which would not traditionally have been considered cause for nationalisation but which have over recent decades grown to eclipse other sectors of the economy.
We should inter alia close tax loopholes on wealth transfers, disbar foreign entities from owning property in Ireland, dramatically increase investment in infrastructure, cut foreign aid to naught, reduce our national debt position and seek to become net creditors.
The role of the State in this is not a passive one, and neither should we look upon the (currently flabby) bureaucratic State (and its regulations) as an impediment to business, but we should expect more from the public sector. We should expect a lean and powerful State to direct the energies of the country. To be active. We require a large civil service but one with dynamism and energy like the Japanese Imperial civil service.
A simple axiom should reverberate: hard work rewarded, avarice punished. We would not look upon a fighter or bodybuilder eating more protein than us as being unfair – yet we should look upon the obese stuffing their face as reprobate. Likewise we should not look upon income inequality as inherently evil, but greed and selfishness should be beaten out of our people at the end of a rod.
Yet we can do none of these things so long as we remain divided and led by those more interested in becoming a Wikipedia page in history. Should those types remain in charge, we will watch our race become a bastardised species without a home while foreign capital remakes the world in the likeness of Hell.