World-Ecology and Ireland: The Neoliberal Ecological Regime
AbstractSince the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, the socio-economic particularity of neoliberal capitalism in its Irish manifestation has increasingly been critiqued, but little attention has been paid to neoliberalism as ecology within Ireland. This article conducts an exploratory survey of the characteristics of the Irish neoliberal ecological regime during and after the Celtic Tiger, identifying the opening of new commodity frontiers (such as fracking, water, agro-biotechnology, and biopharma) constituted in the neoliberal drive to appropriate and financialize nature. I argue for the usefulness of applying not only the tools of world-systems analysis, but also Jason W. Moore’s world-ecological paradigm, to analysis of Ireland as a semi-periphery. What is crucial to a macro-ecological understanding of Ireland’s role in the neoliberal regime of the world-ecology is the inextricability of its financial role as a tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction zone from its environmental function as a semi-peripheral pollution and water haven. We can adapt Jason W. Moore’s slogan that “Wall Street…becomes a way of organizing all of nature, characterized by the financialization of any income-generating activity” (Moore 2011b: 39) to say that to say that the “IFSC is a way of organizing nature,” with pernicious consequences for water, energy, and food systems in Ireland. Financial service centers and pharmaceutical factories, plantations and cattle ranches, tax havens and pollution havens, empires and common markets are all forms of environment-making that constellate human relations and extra-human processes into new ecological regimes. More expansive, dialectical understandings of “ecology” as comprising the whole of socio-ecological relations within the capitalist world-ecology—from farming to pharma to financialization—are crucial to forming configurations of knowledge able not only to take account of Ireland’s role in the environmental history of capitalism, but also to respond to the urgent ecological crises of the neoliberal present.
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