Monday, August 18, 2003

An Obituary To Ireland

'If Ireland is to become a new Ireland she must first become European', said James Joyce in exiles. Many other travails await the country as she creeps out of her comfortable but decrepit slumber. She is so desperate in many ways, blind to social causes save golf club socials, and depoliticised and antipathetic to the point of non-existence. Ireland, Connolly's 'mix of chemicals', has lost itself, lost its way, and fallen victim to the global greed bug.

Europe is the great socialist experiment. Not traditionally left wing, nor indeed centrist, its driving force has always (until recent times, at least) been a truly ideological common good. Forged in the aftermath of war and terrible conflict, ideology was elevated in a desperate politic, and an anxious people. Europe needed leadership away from the awful past and into a future that was replete with compromise, but far more promising than the past. Its time has past, the war is long forgotten, and socialism has been replaced by aggressive ambition, most acutely represented in the accession states.

In typically simplistic American style, the ‘New Europe’ label could easily have been the ‘New America’, just as America was once upon a time Europe’s ‘New World’. It is a place apart, yet the same. It will be colonized. Indeed, America was Europeanised so that some Americans post colonization could well have called themselves more European than the Europeans themselves. They became what Europe might have been but for the albatross of legacy, or from another perspective they developed what Europe’s history had saved it from. They became rich - wildly rich, exploiting the land, and being opportunistic. Defending their stakeholdings from marauding bandits and Indians (sic), the New Europeans of the 18th and 19th centuries developed plantations and businesses, owned property and livestock. They were not subservient to a king, nor did they acknowledge a social order (the white folks in any case – slavery is a whole other thing).

Europe, in Joyce’s time, was aristocratic, socially stratified and orderly. Sure, there were wars and violent uprisings, but these were merely a political extension, things that were necessary. Ireland needed to join that order of nations, to join that grouping, aligning herself with an acceptable if somewhat uncoordinated order. And now, having joined that order, Ireland finds herself a part of the New Europe. Ireland is New Europe, supporting the US for political expediency, while doffing the cap to beef trading nations like France (and Iraq, until recently). Supping with Germany to maximize CAP handouts and voting rights, while welcoming Poland as a new and bright star from the east. Ireland has become European, New European, and American. Ireland, the political whore, has betrayed herself and her people. She is dead now.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Who The Hell Said That?

Briefly, on Monday night, it seemed like it was happening again. A government source had said something controversial to an Independent journalist. Downing Street denied the conversation had ever happened. Then, they said that had it happened, the quotation was not correct. Then, they said that were it correct, that it was not government policy. Then the gushing. Cut it quick and clean – the first rule in communicating bad news. Tom Kelly’s statement said I did it, I’m a prat, I’m sorry, let’s get on with things.

Spin left, spin right, spin right around, and begin again. The pirouettes of the Blair government on Iraq and its aftermath have beggared belief. This is a government that has created a relationship with the media that has well trodden paths from Fleet Street to Downing Street, the arteries upon which this government has thrived. Blair should know however that these arteries run both ways, and now he finds himself in trouble, his journalist friends are deserting him. It may turn out to be a very long holiday indeed.

Friday, August 01, 2003


Liberia is really looking in bad shape these days. It's not the only place, of course. More word on abuses in Afghanistan, with 'coalition' forces turning a blind eye, continued violence in Zimbabwe, different types of violence continuing day in, day out. Flavour of the month is LIberia, for some reason. I can't understand why this has become so topical. It has never been mooted as a strategically important position (unlike Israel, for example. Not militarily strategic, but politically so, you understand. By the way, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dad was a member of the Nazi party, did you know that? It's being slung at him now in California by those who would have Gray Davis retained. He's going to annouce on Leno next Wednesdayt whether or not he'll run. How crass is that? I thought it would be hollywood quirky, but it looks now like it's just going to be hollywood glam.)

Maybe it's because the silly season is upon us, and politics is quiet; or maybe it's because someone important decided it was important. How the newsmedia dissect and interpret stories as newsworthy I'll never know. Rwanda only became important after the numbers became sensational.

Numbers. Numb-ers. Makes you think.