“. . . the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime they called it.” George Orwell, 1984

In the referendum we are now to have, the question is – ah, but what is the question?

It is not, as [Irish finance minister] Michael Noonan wrongly claimed last year, a referendum on whether Ireland should leave the euro zone. (They can’t throw us out.) It is not, as the Taoiseach variously claimed last week, about “economic recovery” or “jobs” or whether we “wish to participate in the European community and the euro and the euro zone from now on. It is surely not about how to define a structural deficit of 0.5 per cent – if it were, it would be the weirdest thing ever put to a public vote.

What it is about, however, is the creation of a thoughtcrime. A certain way of thinking is to be outlawed. It is not Nazism or racism or some other hateful ideology.

It is, in fact, a way of thinking that was, for three decades after the second World War, the dominant economic “common sense” of much of the developed world: the philosophy of John Maynard Keynes. This is the intellectual framework of most of the European centre-left and of New Deal Democrats in the United States. And it is to be banned by an international treaty, like human trafficking or chemical warfare.