Cunning Hired Knaves on the framing of taxation in the Irish Times.
The role of the Irish media in the property crash and following economic crisis is again hitting the headlines with a Sindo special edition promised this Sunday (10/11/2013); the Irish Left Review has also recently published an interesting piece on the role of the media by Bryan Wall on the fifth anniversary of the banking guarantee, while research from UCD’s Julien Mercille into the media’s role in the property crash continues to attract interest here. In light of this renewed interest CMR will post an article previously unavailable online on the role of journalism, ideology in market crises published in Look Left. This article considers the role of communications and media in crises of capital focusing on the Irish crash. Other articles on the property crisis by the author are available here.
First Published in Look Left magazine, September 2012
Click on the images to enlarge
Today DCTV announced that due to lack of funding the station will cease to operate. This represents a clear narrowing of discourse in the public sphere as DCTV through shows such as the live register and dole TV represented views and voices not seen or heard in mainstream media. In particular CMR notes that it was DCTV which covered issues of corporate governance, taxation and power in the Irish Financial Sevices Centre (IFSC); a continued blindspot of all mainstream channels. Moreover the station acted as a voice to those who normally only appear on the national airwaves as either negative stereotypes or victims without agency, such as the unemployed or minority groups. It is particularly sad news as DCTV in recent years had been developing strongly in both its programme making and training roles and it will be severely missed by those of us constantly disappointed by the blindspots, framing and sheer prejudices of Irish mainstream media. We wish all the staff and programme makers of DCTV the very best in the future.
Below is the episode of the live register ‘the city within’ covering issues of power around the IFSC, the first serious effort to cover the issue of financial power on Irish TV:
Come here to me on the dctv closure
The full statement from DCTV is below:
It is with regret that the staff and committee of Dublin Community Television (DCTV) must inform you of the orderly wind down of the station, and the planned cessation of broadcast in February 2014.
On 21 October 2013 the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) made it known that it would not be funding any of DCTV’s archiving projectsubmissions. Alongside this decision, BAI support for DCTV projects through the Sound & Vision scheme had dropped. Funding for 2012 wasseven times higher than the funds received in 2013.
DCTV had recognised its dependence on the BAI and tried to generate alternative funding. This year the station secured significant alternative funding. However, the drop in BAI support to less than a sixth of its previous annual average left the station unable to guarantee the ability to meet its obligations in wages, rent and other costs if it continued to operate.This has been a difficult decision, not least because of the belief that the station was approaching a sustainable funding model.
DCTV started broadcasting in 2006. In that time DCTV developed youth shows, history programmes, music, comedy, information services anddocumentaries. These programmes are archived and will be preserved. DCTV also set up a city centre studio. It is hoped that the studio willcontinue to support ongoing training for community organisations and youth centres in Dublin.
There will be a meeting for the DCTV membership shortly to decide on the winding up of the co-op and other matters. DCTV still has four active television shows in production. There is a plan to complete these projects over the next five months. The co-op will examine how best to preserve the community television production capacity built by DCTV while meeting its obligations to creditors.
DCTV will be meeting with all creditors, landlords, show participants and so on to form an orderly wind down which may involve the transfer of contracts and commitments to other bodies. We would like to thank people for their support in this process as we pursue an orderly resolution of the affairs of the co-op.
We hope that the skills, productions and networks that DCTV leaves behind after six years will be a fitting legacy. The staff and committee ofDCTV thank all of the co-op’s members and collaborators for their support.
The Committee of Management of Dublin Community Television
Sound migration on questions not being asked in the mainstream media:
The Gathering: cynical marketing initiative or …… um…. well, just that really. How else to describe a campaign designed to siphon tourism and, more importantly, investment dollars from members of the Irish diaspora? For the unashamedly middle-class Uncle Sam, and not forgetting first cousin Todd, the chance to return “home” is an invitation to be milked as a cash cow for a State going through the tortures of Austerity. Céad Míle Fáilte? More like a hundred thousand muggings.
But The Gathering is much more than the exploitation of a diasporic community and their mythologised relationship to a normative, white, Anglo-Celtic ideal of “the old country”. The “them” in the tag line of the campaign – “invite them home” – directly refers to family and friends and all the affective connections implied by those relationships. It attempts to enrol the entire national population in entertaining this diaspora, asking communities and individuals to create events to be attended by international visitors or expatriates in order to fleece them of their cash, I mean, show them the craic.
The imperative of the campaign is commanding Irish residents to expend physical and emotional energy and to exploit their personal connections for the wealth of the nation. The affection felt by the diaspora for a mythical Ireland is not all that is at the core of this campaign. It is also, and directly, the meaningful social relationships and social energies of the domestic Irish population.
The Gathering is ultimately about the incorporation of interpersonal and meaningful sociality within the national economic plan: it is the tourism division of what Mario Tronti calls “the social factory”. This concept is used to describe the conclusion of developments associated with post-Fordism through which various life processes, once deemed exterior to the commodity relation and the alienating logics of work, have become integral to the economic calculations of capitalism. In the social factory, money is made, sometimes directly, from affect, cognition, and care.
Examples are in the software, audio/visual production and advertising industries where the mental and affective investments of workers and consumers alike add intangible value in the production of commodities. The socially meaningful practices of digital media consumers of YouTube, Facebook or computer games are also emblematic of this condition as they voluntarily contribute unpaid content, but also generate revenue through the production of consumer data extensively mined and sold to advertisers.
This industrialisation of sociality also takes the form of what Mel Gregg calls “presence bleed” as mobile communication technologies blur boundaries between work and intimate personal life. It can also be found in the logic of “workfare” programmes, lifelong training initiatives and in the expanding phenomenon of unpaid corporate internships like JobBridge. In the social factory, often pleasurable and (quasi-) voluntary social activity, like hosting a party for a visiting relative, works to service the economy, assuming the alienating, expropriating and commodifying logics of industrial capitalism.
The Gathering similarly exploits interpersonal sociality and transforms inalienable human relationships into valuable economic tools. In doing so, it permeates the whole of life and the entire social body with the economic demands of the IrishState. The imperative to “invite them home” is therefore an imperative to invite the economic project of a debt-addled State into your home, into your life and into your meaningful relationships.
With a hundred thousand of these welcomes, it is not only Uncle Sam, and first cousin Todd, who are being mugged by The Gathering.
Kylie Jarrett is a lecturer in Multimedia in NUIM
In an vitriolic anti-teacher polemic today in the Sunday Independent Emer O’Kelly lets loose on who see deems the ‘untouchables’; that is secondary school teachers, and specifically those belonging to the ASTI trade union, however it is quite clear that her thoughts spread across the entire teaching profession. The immediate crime of ASTI members is voting against the latest tranche of austerity measures. This O’Kelly deems as ‘idiotic, selfish and disruptive’. She goes onto the usual trope of the long suffering ‘private sector worker’ as compared to their public sector counterparts. Of course such solidarity with private sector workers only goes as far as to demand the lessening of conditions and pay for their public sector counterparts, neither O’Kelly nor pretty much the entire media establishment have ever shown as much of an ounce of solidarity to private sector workers when on strike or facing unemployment.
But her main point of argument is to demand that secondary school teachers (and one would imagine the entire profession) should have any rights to permanent work revoked, as she puts it:
…we can cheer loudly at the suggestion by the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, that ASTI members may face the possibility of compulsory redundancy
Notwithstanding the fact that O’Kelly’s assertion is in itself mistaken; most teachers spend years on temporary contract, sometimes up to a decade before the elusive permanent contract appears – permanent contracts are also steadily being eroded in third level education, being replaced by precarious short-term contracts, and indeed at primary level Jobbridge has appeared, bringing the teacher’s salary down to a mere €50 top-up to their social welfare entitlements.
She gives a number of other reasons for demanding a higher turnover of teaching staff, her main argumentbeing the high level of adult illiteracy in Ireland.
…we can point it out when we recall the horrifying figure for adult illiteracy in this country, as certified by the OECD. Nearly one fifth of Irish adults are functionally illiterate, having gone through our self-satisfied, self-glorifying education system. Functional illiteracy means that they are unable to read the instructions on a packet of medication, or the destination on a bus. And the people responsible for this are protected from being made redundant
Now this is interesting as she puts all blame for issues of illiteracy on teaching staff; not a word on social exclusion nor unequal resource distribution favouring more affluent areas nor the numerous political, economic and social issues involved, and she certainly has nothing to say about the class issues involved. This view of blaming the teacher does not stand up as research has shown the major cause of poor literacy outcomes is from early exit from school, and not as O’Kelly puts it from teacher performance; as the National Adult Literacy Agency puts it: .
..early school leavers, older adults, non-English speakers and unemployed people are most at risk of having literacy difficulties. In addition, the people with the lowest skills are least likely to take part in adult education.
In Ireland nearly 30% of the workforce has only Junior Certificate or less, while 10% has only primary level or no formal qualifications at all.
The other major reasons cited by the agency are:
…physical or psychological reasons such as poor hearing, vision or problems with speech specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia that were not diagnosed. Being part of a large class and not having specific needs catered for. Poverty and lack of access to educational resources. No free secondary education until 1967
Again as with private sector workers, O’Kelly’s solidarity with the those with literacy problems doesn’t go as far as to question either educational resources or the class inequalities laying at the base of much of these issues. O’Kelly’s solution is to make teaching a more precarious profession, something unlikely to have any positive effect on literacy levels as the aforementioned research has shown, teacher contracts have little or nothing to do with illiteracy. Of course if Emer O’Kelly was concerned about illiteracy two minutes of research, even a quick Google search, would have shown all of this. This says one of two things about O’Kelly: either she is a particularly poor journalist whose level of research skills wouldn’t get her past a leaving cert essay; or she is simply using this as a very poor attempt to attack unionised workers.
Likewise her concern for parents, people for whom she has had little sympathy for in the past, is not credible. She states that ASTI’s very limited action of not doing work for free outside working hours is a direct attack on parents, here she states:
On Wednesday, the ASTI members will begin industrial action by refusing to hold parent-teacher meetings outside school hours. This will cause huge disruption for most parents, and for all working parents.
Is this the same Emer O’Kelly who is opposed to both maternity leave and stay at home mothers? Here’s O’Kelly in a polemic against ‘lazy’ young mothers back in 2008:
I read an interview recently with a woman about to return to work after maternity leave. She was complaining that 12 weeks was not nearly enough. Her problem was not with the wrench of leaving her little one for eight hours a day; her complaint was that she had had a Caesarean section when giving birth, and 12 weeks was not enough time to recover from such major surgery.
With an attitude like that, I hope the woman worked in the public service: because a couple of people like her would quickly put a private-sector employer in the bankruptcy court.
The truth is, we’re all going to have to give a bit more Sunday Independent – 29th June 2008
As she puts it, women have to get back to work from maternity leave as quickly as possible because.
There’s also the small fact of ethics: you owe it to an employer to put your back into your job rather than shmoozing your way through, spending as much time working out how to buck the system as you spend actually on the job.
The truth is, we’re all going to have to give a bit more Sunday Independent – 29th June 2008
Now she does go on to tell us that although she has never had a C-section (or children), but she has had major surgery, after which she was back to work in two weeks. Of course if work for O’Kelly is writing un-researched and biased polemical pieces, major surgery or even children for that matter shouldn’t be too much trouble. However one might imagine that the young mother who complained may have had a real job with actual real work involved.
So we can safely conclude that O’Kelly has little care for private sector workers beyond using them as a stick to beat public sectors with, people facing problems with literacy and certainly she has little or no sympathy for parents, working or otherwise; this begs the question what is her problem with teachers? The answer to this may lie at the beginning of the polemic:
ONCE again teachers, the people to whom parents have no option but to entrust the ethical formation of their children for hours of the day, have disgraced themselves
The problem that seems to be at the root of O’Kelly’s polemic is the role of teachers in society and their position in what she deems the ethical formation of students. As outlined above, ethics for O’Kelly means that the employer is always right, that workers owe their employers everything and should not whinge about minor issues like child care or recovering from c-sections; and workers especially should not refuse to tow the line on austerity cutbacks. This is not the first time that O’Kelly pushed this line, back in 2010 she made similar complaints about the political motives of teachers:
It’s hard to believe that the men and women entrusted with the educational formation of many of our citizens at second level, and all of our citizens at university level, can behave in such an unprincipled fashion. At least, it’s hard to believe of the IFUT; we’re used to the outrageously selfish impropriety of teachers at primary and secondary level. But how uneasy does it make you feel to envisage the intellectual elite of the country being taught ethics, philosophy, and particularly, politics, by people who refuse to abide by a democratic, if reluctant, vote?
‘Copper-fastened’ deal all comes down to the nuts and bolts: Sunday Independent 20 June 2010
Here is the nub of the problem: teachers and to O’Kelly’s surprise lectures are not acting in their traditional conservative role but are in fact acting as the vanguard of resistance to state policy. This process itself maybe reflective of the proletarianisation of the teaching profession over the last number of decades. The teaching profession once a ‘respectable’ and conservative profession acting alongside the conservative curriculum has been one of the key hegemonic pillars of class rule. If teachers at all levels (even university) are becoming more proletarianised and unionised and as in the case of ASTI are acting in the vanguard of resistance; this for the well-connected O’Kelly needs to be stopped before the idea catches on.