Ireland

irishpresident

Dada Maheshvarananda met President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland at Áras an
Uachtaráin, the president’s official residence, in Dublin on 12 February, after
President Higgins read Dada’s book After Capitalism and invited him to meet.

Here’s Dada’s account of the meeting:

The military attache who showed us into the beautiful historic reception
room set up with tea and coffee explained where I should stand and greet
the president when he entered. When Niall asked him how long the meeting
would last he said, “That completely depends on the president, but I would
expect between 10-20 minutes.” In fact the meeting lasted almost an hour.

The president had invited Ruairí McKiernan, a young social entrepreneur
and self-described community troublemaker who had organized the Dalai
Lama’s visit to Ireland, to attend. After the photos were taken, the
president asked the reception assistants to bring orange juice for me, and
his attache to bring in his Prout books. The copy of After Capitalism that
Niall had mailed him had several book markers.

He said, “I’ve marked up my copy a lot. I know Marcus Arruda who wrote the
preface. We met during the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro when
I was minister for the environment. We made a documentary together.”

President Higgins repeated several times, “This book is remarkable. It
needs wide circulation.” He expressed his gratitude to “this wonderful
person, Niall,” who had sent it to him. He explained that he had tried to
find Niall’s telephone but it wasn’t listed, so I joked that he wasn’t as
“efficient” as the NSA. Then he suddenly asked Niall, “Why haven’t you
made this book available to the public?” The president then suggested
various publishers and trade union leaders that we should approach this
week while I am here in Ireland.

The president opened his copy of the book and read to us one paragraph:
“The International Monetary Fund in 2009 estimated the total value of the
world’s economy to be US$70.21 trillion. And yet the total world
derivatives market in the second half of 2009 has been estimated at about
US$615 trillion, more than eight times the size of the entire global
economy!” And now it is even more than that, he emphasized.

He felt the second Prout book that Niall had sent him, Principles of a
Balanced Economy by Roar Bjonnes, is also very good but it’s more a
handbook for cooperativists.

He talked about the discourse on language, how it has been subverted by
the neo-liberal agenda. He said that the media throughout Europe now talks
about “the tax burden” as though it should be avoided completely, not that
it is part of our social responsibility. He asked me, how to change the
discourse of institutions? How to get this into the discourse?

He recounted his experiences in Nicaragua and El Salvador with international
human rights delegations. He said he knew one woman who was killed. He later
stood with the woman’s grandmother at the Monument to Memory and Truth in
El Salvador that has the names of 47,000 people who lost their lives during the
Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992). Sadly, he said, the children who were
refugees always made drawings of helicopters.

He said at the World Economic Forum that takes place each year in Davos,
Switzerland, all the people “have ashes in their mouths.” The politicians
keep going, but they keep mouthing the same thing because they haven’t got
any vision.

I gave President Higgins a copy of Notes and Recommendations on the Irish
Economy by the Institute for New Economic Futures (INEF). I explained
that seven Proutist economists in different countries had contributed to
this 13-page proposal on how to make Ireland more self-reliant and resilient
to global financial crises. That 400,000 Irish, mostly young people, have left
the country since the 2008 crisis looking for work in other countries is a tragedy.

He feels there is a great misunderstanding in Europe about Latin America.

He talked about the different religions that depend on “the book” and
about the fatalism of India. I agreed that there are dogmas in both the
West and the East that are dogmatic and divisive, and how spirituality, on
the other hand, is all-inclusive.

He was very impressed about Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar and said, “Anyone who
can fast for five years on only two cups of yoghurt a day must be very
strong!”

After a pleasant hour of charming conversation, President Higgins graciously
apologized for taking so much of my time. When we said farewell, he embraced
me.

Also in Ireland, the Sunrise Farm has turned into a hive of activity: