The essay is a review of Tom Garvin’s “Preventing the Future. Why was Ireland so poor for so long? Analysis of situation in Ireland after independence as written by Garvin is made. The essay first looks at the social, political and economic situation in the period between 1940 and late 1950’s. The causes and factors that prevented Ireland form achieving economic development in the period are illustrated and explained. The reasons that were driving conservatists into resisting change and development are identified.
By blocking ‘developmentalists’, this had very strong impact on the economy and citizens’ life. Poor education policies and low standard education system that were adopted by the government and policy makers are discussed. The country finally accepted changes and the results are listed. Attitudes and mid set by the Church and the society at large are discussed. The essay also draws information from other books and review journal. Political and cultural changes that took place during this time are stated. Ireland attained independence form Britain in 1922.
The post-independent period from time she attained independence through to 1960, Ireland suffered from economic stagnation (Johnson, 62). Irish people went a through a period of intense cultural and psychological repression. The country came to experienced economic recovery only after 1960 and mainly in the last one decade. Although the country’s state was partly as a result of external effects of great world depression of 1930’s and effects of the just ended Second World War, the 1940-50 recession was mainly caused by internal factors.
British and other countries that were directly involved in the World Wars had recovered and their economies were coming back to their feet even after great destruction and loss in production factors. Also countries like Denmark, which were small economies based on agriculture like Ireland, were performing relatively stronger despite the 1930’s world depression effects (Grada, 135). This clearly shows that there were factors that prevented Ireland from achieving its potential for over forty years.
Lack of economic and social development was evident as continuation of mass emigration especially in 1950’s where people went to search for job employments and other economic opportunities in foreign countries like Britain. Tom Garvin in his book “Preventing the Future: Why Ireland was so poor for so long? ” looks into reasons why Ireland had low economic development in the late 1940’s and 1950’s (Garvin, 154). Garvin writes that despite the external depressionally pressures during that period, there were deep-rooted internal causes.
According to Garvin, the major factor that held back development in Ireland was the inept economic policies that political and social elites pursued (Garvin, 142). Irish government pursued inward-looking economic policies in the late 1930s and 1940s and failed to adapt to the new opportunities of the post-war boom. Though export-focused policies could not be excellent especially in the context of the Great Depression and the Second World War, aggressive policies were inevitable to spur growth and thus recovery of the economy.
Majority of the ruling political class lacked progressive economic mind-set. From independence until late 1950’s, Ireland was ruled by conservative party i. e. Fianna Failparty led by Eamon de Valera (Lee, 72). The ruling political elites had strong anti-modernization ideologies that were major block to change in economic policies and running of the country. The economic policies on foreign exchange, export, industrialization, labor production and investment that the government held impeded on country’s path to real growth and development (Grada, 113).
Reasons that Garvin cited for the government and policy makers’ failure to embrace modern economic policies are: indecisiveness by the political leaders and policy makers, and deliberate effort by the government to block modernization as they were strongly attached to status quo (Honohan, 351). The government and the policy makers had negative attitude to change and modernization and this greatly held back progress. According to Garvin, political elites were hell-bent on ‘preventing the future while pretending to embrace it’, as they were conservatists who opposed change and development (Garvin, 156).