There is a lot of talk on the wires about how the price wars between Tesco and its competitors over the border in Northern Ireland are having a negative impact on not only the exchequer balances of the Republic but also on our identity as a nation.
It is certainly true that Irish suppliers will need to cut costs if they want their products to be prominent on the shelves of these multinational cuckoos, and in these times of lean margins and leaner profits, they may be hard pressed to do so.
I empathise, and agree. Some kind of Irish protectionism is needed in order to preserve jobs and sustain industry in Ireland. The government should lead the way, some chance you say. They couldn’t seem to find their way out of the Dail bar at the moment. Nonetheless the question of our national identity being under threat is simultaneously a chimera of both nonsense and total gravity.
On one hand we as a nation seem to have sold ourselves to the highest bidder to the extent that what is “real old Ireland” only comes now on a DVD, or stock piled from tat in the “build your own Irish pub” warehouses that are springing up to feed the global thirst for the Irish pub franchise. On the other hand, we /are/ being absorbed by the pervasive international nature of business, but so is everybody else.
On one hand people complain there is little sense of organic, real Ireland anymore – and we have lost it, as such. I don’t know if that is entirely true as surely identities are always in flux anyway? We are only experiencing accelerated change and therefore take shelter in the past. The past is its own place and over time becomes so elastic – asking three people about an experience they all shared will make you wonder if any of them were there at all.
People have lost faith in Church, State, the market and lastly each other. It follows that the vacuum needs to be filled – but we need more than X factor and Simpsons repeats for a staple diet, lest soon that rumble in our stomach leads us to believe there is an existential hunger that needs to be addressed when the superficial distractions of modern life fade with the dying cathode.
Personally, I still want to believe in people, in each other – that the demands of our time will bring out the best of us and that we may look at the worst in ourselves and each other with only a passing fancy and realise that we are not alone. It is healthy to be part of an organic whole rather than dazzled by flickering self interest. And that is the rub. Self interest vs. the communal interest.
Maybe falling markets and collapsing housing prices will be for the best if we can collectively learn to appreciate what we /do/ have and each other, so we can be of support to our communities and the wider world in times of need. If we come away from these dark times with a sense of real value, then it will all have been worth it – but alas we may forget..again.
So will Tesco eat my sovereignty? Dunno, I don’t shop there.