The other day, I saw a random tweet which claimed that Ireland is a socialist country. This isn’t the first time that I’ve come across such a statement. It seems to be common misunderstanding, particularly among Americans. Unfortunately, in the eyes of many Americans, any country that provides its citizens with a social safety net is intrinsically socialist.
However, this is not the case. Facts are facts and definitions exist for a reason. You can’t just label something as socialist because it has a welfare system.
Is Ireland socialist?
No, Ireland is not a socialist country. Nor has it ever been. If Ireland were a socialist country, the means of production, distribution and exchange would be controlled by the government. However, this is not the case.
Socialism is based on the belief that everyone has an equal right to a country’s wealth. In 2019, it was reported that were over 70,000 millionaires living in Ireland. Clearly, those numbers show that this “belief” is not a part of our constitution.
If Ireland was a socialist country, then the Irish government would have nationalised all of the main industries. Again, this is not the case. In fact, over the years, Ireland has taken steps in the opposite direction. Aer Lingus, Telecom Éireann and Irish Sugar are all examples of companies that have been privatized by the Irish government.
Ireland’s corporation tax is currently 12.5%, which is much lower than America’s 21%. Does that sound like the corporate tax rate of a socialist country?
Furthermore, Irish people and businesses are allowed to own private property. This fact alone flies in the face of such a claim.
To sum it up, Ireland does not meet the criteria. Therefore, calling it a socialist country is just wrong. There is no other way to put it.
Ireland is a capitalist country.
Although Ireland’s economy is mostly capitalist, the country also has a number of social programs that are funded by taxpayers:
- Residents in Ireland are entitled to use the public health system. However, it is worth noting that people can also avail of private healthcare if they want to.
- Education is free up to second level. However, private schools do exist.
- Unemployment and disability benefits are available to everyone.
- There is a state pension.
However, having social programs is not the same thing as socialism.
Since the state’s formation, Ireland has been led by centrist and centre-right governments. As of writing, it has never had a left-wing government. Therefore, it is pretty ridiculous to suggest that we are a socialist nation.
You can’t just change the definition of something to suit your narrative.