Claochlu: the Irish Political Economy Collective

For some time, I’ve been interested in the idea of research into the Irish economy – by which I mean the economies of both statelets and of the island as a whole.  There are only a few people on the left doing this and while valuable work has been produced, there are a couple of problems too.

i. These days it’s very hard for any individual, especially given the demands on all our time, to do the kind of work that is needed.  Even if someone devotes their time to researching the Irish economy/ies, as opposed to other fields of activity, it’s still very difficult to do all the work individually.

ii. A chunk of left analysis of the Irish economy, and especially ‘solutions’, are essentially a left form of Keynesianism.  A real socialist critique and workers’/socialist solutions are often put on the back burner.  Somehow clapped-out Keynesianism is deemed more ‘acceptable’ than the kinds of solutions that arise from a relentless critique of capitalist social relations.  But it is vital to explain that, in the context of the current capitalist crisis in Ireland, there are no solutions that are not at the expense of workers – apart from solutions beyond capitalism altogether.

As a result, I’ve started floating the idea of a political economy group – well, to be strictly accurate, Marx didn’t produce political economy but a critique of political economy which, in his day, was the most advanced discipline through which the bourgeoisie and their thinkers sought to understand the system.  Marx  produced a critique of the categories which these people had developed to understand capitalism and capitalist social relations.  Unfortunately, a title like the Critique of the Irish Political Economy Group, along with an Irish word to convey what it’s about, is rather unwieldy.

So I’m suggesting Claochlu: the Irish Political Economy Collective.  Claochlu means, basically, transformation, and that is what the collective would be about – transforming understanding (especially among progressive people) about the economy/ies on the island, the causes and consequences of the crisis and putting forward the need for a social transformation.

A research plan would be developed and then proceeded with, with collective members working together, maybe in twos or threes, to do particular pieces of research, which would then be made available to the wider socialist-republican movement (or anyone else on the left who wanted to use it).

What we produce could go up on this blog and any other participating folks’ blogs and also be given to organisations like éirígí and the IRSP.

Some familiarity with Marx’s crisis theory – ie the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as “the single most important law of modern political economy” and the political ramifications of this – is certainly helpful.  However, it’s not essential.  There’s plenty of research and fact-gathering and writing that can be done of immense use without understanding crisis theory.  Some basic things we can do, for instance, are follow serious bourgeois journals and their analysis of what’s going on, compile bibliographies of useful articles and books and write summaries.

I’ve written elsewhere very briefly on crisis theory and I’ll put up some stuff on this at the start of May.  In the meantime, a long article on this blog – How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t – provides a useful overview.  I’d also recommend Tony Norfield’s Economics of Imperialism blog and Brendan Cooney’s Kapitalism101 blog, especially his excellent little video series on the law of value.

People interested in involvement in the political economy collective can contact me by responding in the Comments section of this article or by emailing me at



Posted on April 18, 2012, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Blog News, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Irish politics today, Political education and theory, Social conditions, Trade unions. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Claochlu: the Irish Political Economy Collective.

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