Politics in hard times

The FT is full of depressing news stories this morning, none of which are surprising.

In the US, a Tea Party candidate won the Republican nomination for the Senate elections in Delaware.

In France, Sarkozy suggested that Luxembourg (home of the Commissioner who sharply criticized him for the Roma expulsions) would do well to welcome a few Roma itself.

In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, may be on the brink of an electoral breakthrough that might see it hold the balance of power after the elections there.

And the Japanese decision to weaken the yen is provoking tension with Europeans and Americans.

Lots of zero sum thinking out there this morning: history rhyming.

94 replies on “Politics in hard times”

@ KO’R,

When I attempted to write a blog entry the other day, I found it difficult to write the entry, without stating implicitly that markets decide what sort of government we have, or don’t have. If you ask a political scientist, they will reassure you, that people are supposed to decide what government we have. But the problem with today’s excessive levels of personal indebtedness and leverage, is that markets in a way own people. By subterfuge, the markets have obtained (some degree of) control over the process of government selection. It sounds a bit extreme to utter such an idea in a democratic country such as Ireland. But the honest truth is, no voter in Ireland in 2010, is as impartial as they would like to the election process. Many of us are in debt, and require policies and leaders who will remove that pain as fast as possible. That opens up the range of potential candidates for election in Ireland much wider than it has ever been.

Another point I wish to make is the following. During the period of credit expansion in many parts of the world, including Ireland, the markets favoured one kind of government. A kind of government who knew how to bask in the sunshine of the economic boom. It seems unfair now, that the same markets can decide, they longer want that kind of government. They require a government which is capable of enforcing all kinds of drastic measures. You get a sense, in which markets when they operate a strong influence on the process of democratic election – either in times of credit expansion or in times of fiscal austerity – those markets can change their preference for a certain kind of government very quickly.

In other words, I think there is a reason why people, citizens, joe bloggs on the street is a much better arbiter in the electoral process. Because Joe Bloggs, is not going to change as dramatically and as quickly in his preference as the entity known as the markets does. It is not that markets are inherently evil, but they tend to be turbulent. This might work well for decisions on the price of eggs, but is it the best way to choose a cabinet? The existing cabinet in Ireland has passed its sell-by date, and the market would dictate that its price be marked down to almost nothing. That is an exceptionally useful approach if you want to buy fresh eggs. But is it the best way to decide on political authority? If we acknowledge that in Ireland, we are dependent on external sources of funding to provide economic development – then it must follow, that by definition – our experience of political democracy will also be mediated somewhat by the influence exerted on us by the market forces. BOH.



after sitting until 4:00am on my first website attempt, sigh, yeah I find it somewhat disheartening to read the news these days. While tighter budgets at in EU and USA result in smaller defense budgets as well, the industry is exporting like mad.

The USA plans to sell USD 60 bln worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer of U.S. weapons during the four-year span of 2005 through 2008, with $11.2 billion in deals, according to the U.S.


Oh well, and of course the german exports!

According to SIPRI http://www.sipri.org/ we have a ‘boom’, not yet ‘kaboom’ of wepaons trade. In the past 5 years german exports more than doubled.

Brasil plans to up their ‘defense budget’ 25%, and India up to 1/3.

In Europe, Xenophobia turns mass hysteria again, and war of words becomes a daily political reality…. again! – Sickening!

Why is it depressing that the Tea-Party candidate won? Might be to the Financial Times and Dublin 4, I guess, but not elsewhere.

It confirms what I wrote on one of the other threads yesterday (before I heard about the Delaware result) that the US is becoming more socially conservative, and that religion still plays a big (and increasing) part in society and politics there. There are other reasons for not being depressed about the Delaware result:

(a) The Tea-Party candidate is extremely beautiful.

(b) Her name is Christine O’Donnell, which means her ancestors probably came from Donegal (for the benefit of Dublin 4 people, that’s a county in the north-west of Ireland), which means that, when she becomes President, tourists will flock to Donegal, which means that the house I part-own there will shoot up in value. Indeed, as my great great grandmother was also an O’Donnell from Donegal, I may check out to see if I’m her distant cousin.

So, I see nothing about the Delaware result to depress me.

The Sweden result is a different kettle of fish, of course.

Regarding France:

At least the European institutions can help limit such zero sum thinking within Europe.

I find it very difficult to imagine neo-Nazis becoming prominent in Sweden, though that’s no reason not to be concerned.


The US as a whole isn’t becoming more conservative. There is a key segment of the population that is losing out materially to the rest of the population , whose relative share of income is declining and these people are turning to religion. The same phenomenon can be seen in many Middle Eastern countries including Israel.

The US has always had a creationist component . The 1920s had the Scopes trail where HL Mencken came face to face with it.

The key trend is that median wages haven’t increased since the 1970s. The rich are taking too much out of national income. The top 0.01% or 15000 US households had 1.7% of all income in 1976 and 6.04% by 2007.

I watched a video of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on youtube last night and what was most obvious was the ignorance of the participants. And how lost they are. The certainties of the past have disappeared and they seem to be looking for guidance and that search leads for the moment to the tea party and a deeper interest in religion.
I don’t see anything positive in the ongoing disenfranchisement of these vulnerable people.

as the fiscal tightening continues in ireland over the next few years i wouldnt be surprised if a glenn beck type character emerged here. i know the scope for such a thing here is a lot less, especially given rte’s abysmal performance throughout this crisis, no fear them doing anything a bit outlandish that might upset the govt. that said, i’d say we’re not far off tv3 trotting out some man of the people for a half hour every night to hammer the govt and the establishment. the anger is certainly there, the ignorance required probably is too.

I was pondering how serious JTO meant what he said, or whether this was rather a ironic statement.


While the biggest push in Europe from ultra right wings is in eastern european countries, you can find paramilitary organized and dressed in brown Italian 30s ‘costumes’ hate preachers and ‘let’s beat em up’ philosophers marching the streets, but equally, you find the similar troublesome tendencies in countries like the Netherlands, spear headed by populist Geert Wilders and his hate speeches.

Sadly, ultra right wings are no longer a small group of Nazi nostalgic Ramboo personalities, but rather well organized in social life, politics, unions, churches etc.


Christine O’Donnell makes Mary Couglan look like a towering intellectual. She has some amusing views on what constitutes adultery, has lied about her eductaion & defaulted on debts & taxes. She looks and sounds like a certifiable nut job.


Yes, the median in the US was what? Around USD 45k I think, and never changed substantially.

Now we have this ‘global heist’, I just refuse to use the term economic crisis, as the latter implicates to me something that happened without intent, and this leads to an even higher concentration of capital in the hands of a few, or would that be wrong to say?

Sigh…. It is all so blatantly obvious!

Actually the Tea party candidate win shows how the traditional Republican voter in the States is confused and these ‘Mama Bears’ as Palin calls them could make it very difficult for the Republicans to gain control of the Senate because they scare away the middle class voter. (And that has got to be a good thing!)

agree. its probably a good thing when the nut jobs win republican primaries, they’re craziness galvanises the middle and left and loses them the general election. thats the theory anyway.

@jarlath, would it really be that bad if some character was having rallys and protests against those in power? Sure people can be manipulated and mistakes will be made. Plenty of mistakes have been made by those setting policy, the consequences are being felt by those angry people. Obviously there is potential to blame the wrong people but that shouldnt stop us from demanding change.

What do the management consultants say? Change is inevitable so embrace it! Or is that only for the little people?

I’d love to see someone emerging here who would put the fear of God into Leinster House.
Because otherwise its likely that FG/Lab will take over and those now in power will be rebranding themselves as the party of the little people. After spending tens of billions bailing out their cronies.

Suprised with the references to nazi connections, that the article missed the most depressing thing. Which is that is is impossible to listen to the radio/tv for the next few days without being lectured to by an ex Hitler youth.


“She has some amusing views on what constitutes adultery, has lied about her eductaion & defaulted on debts & taxes. ” 🙂

Reminds me of a several prime ministers and presidents, she’s a shoe in!!!

What I find worrying about the Tea Party is the conspiratorial element, such as believing Obama is a Communist Muslim. Conspiracies are a substitute for educated analysis.

no no, i dont think it would be bad at all. but i would hope it wouldnt be someone like Beck, using people’s fears and their religion to stoke up anger and hate, all the while selling his books and radio shows so come what may he ends up a millionaire. To be honest i dont think there is the religious aspect here in ireland to be manipulated like there is in the U.S, so hopefully we’d never have to look at anyone like that. but i do think it would be good to have an articulate, intelligent person on our screens each night highlighting and hammering home the inadequacies of our govt and civil service. at the moment all criticism is too fragmented and invariably gets drowned out by the constant drone of a michael martin or eamonn ryan flying overhead….i really am surprised tv3 havent tapped into this yet, given the budget thats coming, anger and resentment is only going to get worse.


Obama is hailing the sale of weapons to the Saudis as a great boost to employment, weapons seem to be the only thing the US manufactures these days. Scary thing is you need an enemy for sales to keep on going up, whatever you think about Iran the vilification of them sets this up nicely!

indeed reagan attracted young voters,especially males,in a way that left their parents scratching their heads,remember michael j fox in family ties?
regarding the senate the republicans may be better off in 2012 if they don’t win absolute control in november and blow it like gingrich did in 95-96 and give clinton a second chance.

I would gladly support any movement in either the UK or US that would advocate a cut in spending and govt borrowing, there are just a lot of things within the tea party movement i cant reconcile with. but yeah those who would force some kind of change in ireland generally do just leave and thats why we always lose out to the ‘statists’ as you put it.

Whatever else you want to say about Christine O’Donnell you can never call her ‘a wanker.’

@De Roiste

I would argue that this substantial move adds another variable to the middle east conflict, it is hard to tell what this policy will result in, there are many possible scenarios.

When oil prices raised 2007, the military budget for Saudi Arabia was up from 8.39 per cent to 9.37 per cent of GDP. Declining oil prices would have no effect on defense budgets though. Even when oil prices fall sharply, the Kingdom continued to splash out on military expenditure.

GDP forecast is between 4 and 6% for 2011.

In my opinion the Kingdom is changing policies and becomes more of a interventioist force in the future.

A site you folks may find of interest: http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

“The young simply leave and don’t have a mechanism / platform to revolt against the status quo.”

Hmm, apart from that democracy thingy.

Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe. We haven’t all left.

i think if you take out the large numbers leaving…and the large numbers cossetted in public sector jobs….then you dont have enough angry young people for any kind of real upheaval.

It is probably impossible to disentangle the strands of support for parties with a zenophobic/racist agenda into those that are genuinely nasty and those that reflect concern about the impact of alien cultural and legal norms on societies that are based on a broad and deep constitutional consensus. And it is even more difficult to have a civilised debate about the latter.

But it is ironic that the growing concerns about the impact of growing Muslim immigration in Europe (and increasing radicalisation of second and third-generation Muslims) that is accompanied by the increased prevalence of a distinctive female dress code, the demand for more mosques, a desire for the use of Sharia law and increased ghettoisation is co-inciding with the child abuse scandal that is convulsing the Roman Catholic Church.

In both cases, the core issues are the asserted supremacy of a set of laws (Sharia – Islam and Canon Law – RC Church) over those of the state and the superiority of the religiously decreed cultural/behavioural norms over those constitutionally and democratically established or protected.

Until these issues are addressed openly and honestly by politicians in the EU, zenophobic parties will continue to gain increased support.

There is no doubt that the current economic difficulties are fueling a rise in far right politics in Europe, and with rising unemployment and uncertainly, radical solutions resonate with voters. In saying that, I think that we need to make a clear distinction between the extreme xenophobic views of the 1930’s Nazi party and the current issues that are drawing people to the far right. Now a days people have concerns, valid or not, about immigraiton and religious extremism given the perception of migrants taking more from welfare systems than they give and the rise in islamic fundamentalism. Much of this is not driven by outright racial hatrid but considerations of welfare resourse allocation, employment policy and crime. While we must remain vigilant in the face of racial tensions, I believe that the policy spectrum of right to left is much more constrained than the one that existed in the early 1930’s.

@ Paul MacDonnell

One thing I don’t understand is why libertarians would support the Teabaggers.

Perhaps I misinterpret you, but surely libertarians would be against large chunks of the Teabaggers agenda.

It is important that people in Ireland and elsewhere keep an eye on this bigger picture. It is very easy to lose oneself in one problem when a greater problem is on its way. A lot of the debate in Ireland about our debt, default and our tax burden takes on this character. We are part of a Europe and a Western World that is in difficulty.

Well done KO’R

The Tea Party folk have a lot in common with people elsewhere; they want to have their cake and eat it.

Alaska is the biggest beneficiary of federal largesse but the likes of Sarah Plan wants reduced spending and so it goes.

Some of the bigots in their midst of course are ‘energised’ because there is a blackman in the White House.

The Republican Party of Delaware has given the Democrats plenty ammunition on O’Donnell.

The AP reported that she said masturbation was as bad as adultary!

As regards having one’s cake and eating it, I will be on Radio Kerry from Kuala Lumpur after 9:00 Fri morning as there’s a storm in a teacup about a broadband mast.

I saw it first hand in Jeddah and Ireland has plenty Nimbies but few if any will pay extra to allay their health fears or whatever but like the Corrib Gas protesters, they still want the modern life: CAP cheques and others risking their lives providing them with oil from nigeria ir Arabia.

Why should Cork worry about hazardous waste when it can be shipped to India!

@Kevin O’Rourke

‘The supposed competitive pressures of globalization were used as an excuse to undermine welfare protections, even as globalization increased the need for them by contributing to a widening income distribution. And the financial sector was extensively deregulated, which explains the mess we’re in today.’



Do I detect the seeds of an Open Tea_Party Re_Public_an Party in certain comments around here?


The problem about the neoliberal trick of taking money away from the masses and giving it to the top 1% in the form of bonuses and financial windfalls is that ultimately the business sector doesn’t have enough consumers with enough spare cash to buy the products that drive consumption and hence economic growth . That’s the position the US now finds itself in. The top 20% own 93% of all financial and real assets. The rest kept up via debt and cheap Chinese imports for a few years but that tide has gone out. There could never have been a subprime boom and crisis without the massive increase in inequality which preceded it.



This is probably the most succinct description of the fundamental problem confronting developed economies. The impact has been marginally less severe in Europe because its social model protects a larger number of insiders.

I have only one quibble. Although neo-liberal has become the accepted label, this came about through an alliance of neo-cons, large corporations and the super-wealthy elite (and the think-tanks, useful idiot academics, sections of the media, lobbyists and politicians it finances).


… and our own neo_liberal ideologues did a neat con_ job post 1997 …………. and then in 2008 simply ‘futures bundled’ the labour of an entire generation of Irish serfs and transferred it into the present to come to the aid of the backers of this failed ideology. What a mess ……..

Anyone familiar with American slang will know that it is most unfortunate for a political group to be described as “Teabaggers”.


“Forty-four million people [44,000,000] in the United States, or one in seven residents, lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of 4 million from the year before, the Census Bureau reported [Today] …. The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent — the highest level since 1994 — from 13.2 percent in 2008. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the official poverty line …

For a single adult in 2009, the poverty line was $10,830 in pretax cash income; for a family of four, $22,050. The number of residents without health insurance in 2009 climbed to 51 million, from 46 million in 2008.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/us/17poverty.html?hp Breaking News New York Times

America is not becoming more socially conservative – in fact the opposite is happening. Nationwide polls have shown a majority in favor of same-sex marriage, and in some states this is already legal. The path towards same-sex marriage is following many of the legal and judicial steps that interracial marriage did back in the 1960s, and is likely to become as unremarkable as interracial marriage is. Many states allow medical marijuana, and this is a non-issue for local police forces. At the federal level things are gridlocked, but at state and local level in many regions laws have been put in place that reflect the more liberal views of local populations (sometimes in conflict with federal law).

Of course there are significant regions of the country where there are very strong socially conservative/evangelical populations and where a belief in ideas such as American exceptionalism, evolution denial and the USA as a blessed nation under God are common, along with a love of guns, but it is wrong to extrapolate national trends just from this group.

That being said I don’t think the Tea Party is really about social issues, but is about tax and government spending. At some point the claims of the Republican party to be the party of ‘small government’ and fiscal responsibility were going to have to yield to the reality that deficits under Republican presidents( Reagan, Bush I and Bush II) were greater than under the Democrats (Clinton). The Tea Party is largely a breakaway group of the Republican Party, though by wrapping itself in the largest American flag available it attracts all sorts. There is a large disenfranchised and angry group of poor and poorly educated white voters that are targeted by the right wing parties – seeing groups of these desperately poor people marching to protest health care reforms that would benefit themselves makes no sense, but often happens.

The legacy of Bush II will take a long time to dissipate. He was such a polarizing figure and introduced an intolerance, bitterness and irrationality into national debates that it is impossible for pragmatic moderates to make forward progress. Many news and current affairs TV shows in the USA are simply vehicles for propaganda (on both right and left) rather than a forum for reasoned debate. For all the criticism of TV, radio and newspapers in Ireland as regards coverage of politics, the general level of coverage and debate is of a far higher standard than in the USA.

Great article Kevin.

For anyone who just read the blog post and didn’t click through to the final link of Kevin’s article on Eurointelligence, I strongly recommend it.

JtO and Paul “Gaelic is an aboriginal identity” McDonnell may want to hold their fire for a while before tying themselves irrevocably to the fortunes of the WASP-y nativist Teabagger nuts.

O’Donnell’s fruitcake ideas are only now being highlighted by gleeful Democrats – the latest, I believe, is her belief that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster…

@ the loan arranger

“I though Hillary fired the shot.”

No, it was Tuesday, so she was busy with her secret lesbian lifestyle on the nights that she wasn’t having an affair with Foster (boy, do I recall too much about the Freepers, the GOP’s astroturf predecessor to the Teabaggers….)

@Paul McDonnell

So you classify 40+ white males, supported by a number of shady rightwing organisations, as a mass movement of young people? Well there is hope for me yet. Also, I don’t know where you were in the early 80s but I was there and the Reagan and Thatcher era were not a triumph of youth.

It definitely was not Bill, he was too busy running drugs into Arkansas for the Medallin cartel, according to the Daily Torygraph.

It is, seriously, just so hard to keep up with the fun on this one. The latest O’Donnell quote?

“American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.”

I’m so looking forward to Paul and John (surely not my old friend, Mr McGuirk?) getting back to us on this one.

It is easy to get depressed about these kinds of movements. I think there is a lot in Mitterand’s cynical observation on the France’s National Front, that they weren’t Fascists, they were just nostalgic for a time when it really was possible to believe in Fascism.

All of my life, I have been interested in playing games of strategy. Sun Tzu was a marvellous book a demonstration of intellect applied to combat and warfare that was readily adopted by those whose pawns are human.

These issues have been gamed in particular by Rand. There are many different think tanks around now. They have been reviewing history and refining the rules of their simulations over and over. Funnily, haha, having a general on each side makes the games assymetrical and dangerously our of control. Therefore most simulations are aimed at suborning those who might oppose the main agenda. Bilderberg, Trilteral etc are all aimed at identifying the players who can then be “gamed”. Most fall into three or four very well understood categories and can be easily assimilated into the agenda.

All of the “conflicts” especially those of the “axis of evil” are controlled by those who are the world government. North Korea is slightly less well controlled than the others for obvious reasons….. But they almost certainly do not have anything but a dirty bomb capability. Private non public, organizations are also controlled. Aum shin Rikyo, Ananda Marga etc all had potential to disturb the real world and diverge from the agenda.

OK, so I am often slightly insane and incurably paranoid, but some of this may ring as true with those of you who have a brain?

What role does Ireland play? As a banking centre …… The IFSC. How the debt was created and why is part of that agenda. It is merely extending control of the country. When the masses get powerful, they make the agenda more difficult to execute. Slavery or docility, follows debt. That was why Thos Jefferson was so opposed to it. He might now favour it!

Get used to it. Freedom is earned. Allowing those who plan and game to bind the coutry so easily was foolishness. My respect for the PTB in Ireland is extremely low. Try harder, when commenting here, to bear this in mind and impress me?

Soon there will be little villages, made from NAMA assets, of course, with motivational ditties like “Arbeit macht frei”!

This will provoke a reaction ……… which is where the modelling and gaming and planning and agenda all come in! You have all been half swallowed and only individuals can escape the process wherever it leads. Crap such as 2012, mayan prophecy, rapture, blue beam warming, etc are just distractions.

I wonder if the gaming is/has been adequate. It includes China. Even the gamers are being gamed. As most of the economic problems centre on too many assets, the potential for demotivational “sharing” and changing the historic role of money and debt is a threat to the agenda. All natural disasters that change the ratio of demand to supply makes many “weapons” self defeating. Anmyone interested in contacting me should have interesting offers only. My attention span these days is short as is my patience!

Times are going to become very challenging for Ireland! Enjoy your little kleptocracy!

@Brian G

In all 31 US States where the issue has been put to a referendum, the people have voted against legalising same-sex marriage. The only ones where it is legal are ones where liberal judges declared it legal. Hey, why let the people decide these matters, when liberal judges know better? However, same-sex marriage isn’t that big a deal for most social conservatives. Even Glenn Beck has said it isn’t something to worry about. A far bigger issue for most social conservatives is abortion. Here, the trend is clearly in favour of the pro-life movement. However, this isn’t the forum for such a debate, so I will leave it at that.

Regarding Kevin O’Rourke’s excellent article, it is noticeable that, although most of it is about political developments in continental Europe, nearly all the posters have focused on the US. In particular, many posters seem to have difficulty digesting the fact that a neo-nazi movement is making big inroads in Sweden, a country that is continually fawned over by most media commentators in Ireland, as some sort of social paradise, where the all-wise government takes most of everybody’s money and religion has been pushed to the margins of society. But, the developments in Sweden are simply following a well-established pattern, already seen in a number of continental European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Austria, and others to come. It is very likely that neo-nazis will be at least junior partners in government in a number of continental European countries in the next few years. In contrast, such movements have made negligible progress in Ireland, and very little in other English-speaking countries, such as the UK and US.

The question that Irish media commentators should be discussing is: “Why are such unwelcome political developments happening in many continental European countries, including the supposedly enlighted Nordic countries, but not in Ireland?” and “How can we ensure that this continues to be the case?”. They won’t, of course. Imagine Fintan O’Toole writing an article along those lines. Pigs would fly first. But, does the fact that neither extreme right-wing anti-immigrant parties nor extreme left-wing anti-capitalist parties are making any inroads at all in Ireland, in contrast to many continental European countries, plus the fact that Ireland has accepted necessary austerity measures without going on strike or taking to the streets, in contrast to France last week, not tell us that Ireland’s political system and, indeed, Ireland’s society, has lots of strengths that should not be thrown away at the behest of the ultra-liberal ultra-secular media?

I’d say that there are two main reasons why Ireland has been largely immune from the sort of unwelcome political developments now being seen in continental Europe: (a) high-tax countries are more likely to spawn anti-immigrant movements than low-tax ones, since people will believe, rightly or wrongly, that the high taxes are being used mainly for the welfare of immigrants – this belief is then easily exploited by neo-nazi parties (b) countries in which the Judaeo-Christian heritage has been largely destroyed, and the traditional religions of those countries pushed to the margins of society, are creating a vacuum which is being filled by Islam, and this is generating conflict.

Could a neo-nazi movement ever make headway in Ireland? The answer is ‘yes’, but only in changed political circumstances. As of now, the only political change likely in Ireland will be one from government led by FF to one led by FG. This is a marginal change of no significance at all in terms of the overall stability and essential nature of the political and economic system. In the unlikely event of a much larger political change to a left-wing ultra-liberal ultra-secular government, which raised taxation as a percentage of GDP to the level currently prevalent in many continental European countries, and which drove Ireland’s traditional religions to the margins of society, it is very likely that Ireland would then see the sort of lurch to extreme right-wing political parties that we see happening elsewhere in Europe. Kevin O’Rourke finished his excellent article with the following quote: “Why have we been in such a hurry to tear down the dikes laboriously set in place by our predecessors? Are we so sure that there are no floods to come”. Very wise words. I am not sure what Kevin O’Rourke was referring to. I don’t want to ascribe views to him that he doesn’t hold. He may (I don’t know) only have been referring to matters relating to the economy. But, I’d say that they are also very wise words for matters relating to the wider society.


O’Donnell’s fruitcake ideas are only now being highlighted by gleeful Democrats – the latest, I believe, is her belief that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foste.

JTO again:

For the record, I never heard of her until this week. I merely observed that her victory was not depressing me, as Kevin O’Rourke suggested it should, because (a) she looks great (b) her name suggests she’s of Donegal descent. I wouldn’t necessarily believe things said about her on the liberal media in the US. They did a hatchet job on Ronald Reagan, portraying him, by taking quotes out of context, as a loon in the years leading up to his election. Most Americans now think he was one of their greatest-ever Presidents. Delaware is one of the more liberal US states, its not Texas or Alabama, yet a poll yesterday put her at 42pc in the Delaware Senate race. If she’s a right-wing loon, as the liberal media in the US are portraying her, how come 42pc of the relatively liberal electorate of Delaware are supporting her? If she did say that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster (and I have seen no proof that she said it), that would be one of the silliest comments I have ever heard of any politician making, ranking second only to Joan Burton’s comment a year ago that 500k people would emigrate from Ireland in 2010.

i do not think the reason ireland has accepted austerity so meekly is because we are any more enlightened or tolerant than other E.U nations. it’s because our public sector unions had managed to inflate the wages of their workers to such a degree during the boom that when the cuts came they still left them way ahead of the norm. and by norm i mean average private sector workers or their equivalents across the E.U. borrowing colossal amounts of money to continue deluding ourselves and avoid industrial action is not something we should be proud of.

yet a poll yesterday put her at 42pc in the Delaware Senate race. If she’s a right-wing loon, as the liberal media in the US are portraying her, how come 42pc of the relatively liberal electorate of Delaware are supporting her?

Link? And I strongly suspect, here, that you need to learn the difference between ‘likely voters’ and ‘registered voters’. A hell of a lot of democrats and independents are lukewarm about voting this year, but the Republican base is fired up in the belief that their Islamo-Commie-Black Nationalist president (of Kenyan-Indonesian birth) is coming for their guns…

@ jarlath

So the fact that as someone with a third-level qualification I earn more than someone in Supermacs means that I am being paid unfairly…? (and for the record, by going into the public sector I personally have always had lower renumeration than my private sector equivalent).

I never said you were being paid unfairly, im saying you are paid far more than our country can now afford. and that level is being maintained now through massive borrowings. my point is there has been little or no industrial action or threat there of from our PS unions, even before the croke park agreement, and i think its because there is still quite a cushion of comfort there. JTO seemed to be saying that we had not had withspread strikes because we were a more pragmatic, thoughtful people than the hothead europeans, but my point was we had gotten so far ahead, when the cuts came they still left our public sector relatively comfortable in pretty much all areas. thats why i think there has been no industrial strife

@ JohntheOptimist

“Most Americans now think he was one of their greatest-ever Presidents.” You have unwittingly revealed yourself. Most of the world always thought that Ronald Reagan was a male bimbo spokemen for his wealthy backers, and they still do, in so far as they give him a second thought.

Most Irish people thought Bertie Ahern was great too. Its easy be thought ‘great’ if your supporters have total control of the media. The perception of ‘greatness’ can dissapear like snow on a ditch when the wealthy owners of media outlets decide it is time to distance themselves from your memory. Would anyone believe if they only started reading the Indo today that that paper virtually created ‘Bertie the Celbrity’ and forced down our throats all the silly details of his and Cecilia’s private life.

@ jarlath

“im saying you are paid far more than our country can now afford.”

Well, we’ve been told time and time again that the country can’t ‘afford’ the wages that any of us are paid (excepting, of course, our irreplacable high earners). About twenty percent of my own workplace’s staff are gone, and most would have had about 15% taken off our wages. So, have you done your patriotic bit in your workplace to ‘reduce costs’?

Of course, all of this is a nonsense. It’s the banks and developers that are killing us, not average wage-slaves who spend most of their earnings back into the economy straight away.

But how do the Teabaggers hope to pay for all their shootin’ and fighin’, once they take back America (and Iran). I suspect they will need to raise taxes.

@Paul MacDonnell
“Reagan was a product of the Enlightenment – he may not have been a philosopher of Reason but he was an exponent of Reason ….”

This is the guy with the astrologer on call?


It is unfortunate that some great comments on why change is thwarted in Ireland has been diverted by arguments on O’Donnell’s views or Regan. I don’t think anyone here has claimed she is the next Abe Lincoln or even claimed to be a supporter of her, let alone support all her views. All people have said is that her election is not depressing.

Pauls comment earlier well I don’t support the Tea Party movement – per se. I’m treating them as a movement of citizens that are in a state of revolt against Government deficit spending.

I share that view and in that context, I see her election as far from depressing, it’s a reason for optimism. A bunch or ordinary decent people in Delaware have had enough. Sometimes it’s enough to kick the bums out. e.g. I voted for Finian McGrath because he is not Ivor Callely.

I’d vote for a party that would cut, ideally eliminate the deflict, though I don’t expect to see a party that would promise it, I dont expect Finian McGrath to promise it 🙂

But the interesting this is why is nobody promising it here?
Has a critical mass has been reached who depend on an increasing deflict for their money?
Do people really believe the deflict is an investment?
Or is it just too tempting to slag the americans and feel superior while hoping their multinationals come in and employ lots of workers to pay takes to subsidize everyone else?

“well I don’t support the Tea Party movement – per se. I’m treating them as a movement of citizens that are in a state of revolt against Government deficit spending. ”

Sure I might aswell treat FF as a movement of citizens with perfect economic management, especially regarding financial crises. Sure while I’m at it, why not treat myself as the guy Brad Pitt wished he looked like.

The fact is that the Teabaggers want to take back America. They will probably try do that via Iran.

@Paul MacDonnell:
You mean that, as long as Reagan “expounded” one set of values in public, it didn’t matter what he actually did?

I must try this expounding stuff. But I don’t hold with celticism myself: I have suggested before that most of it was invented in the late Victorian era, which I think is a position not altogether dissimilar to one of your own.


Meh, Economically and politically Bush II was identical to Reagan only Reagan used proxies in Afghanistan and Iraq while the other jumped straight in.

@ Paul O’Donnell
“Reagan was a product of the Enlightenment”

Reagan would be horrified at the accusation.

Not only did he believe in astrology, he believed in the End of Days. He said he was told that they would come shortly. Not only did he believe in the Book of Revelations ( a sad schitzophrenic rant that has embarassed Christianity for two thousands years ) but he was so anti-intellectual he was too lazy tio read that entertaining slim little volume for himself.

Reagan had as much to do with the fall of the Iron curtain as a witch-doctor’s dance has to do with rain.

Kevin’s history rhyming piece is very interesting. I was reminded of Newt Gingrich’s nostrum that the European welfare state was a Cold War construct, and now the Cold War has been won, it will have to go.

@ Paul McDonnell

You’re dreaming if you think the British economy is going to be an engine of growth; why would the same policy as Ireland’s yield opposite results? The UK Treasury’s own forecast is for 500,000-600,000 jobs to go in the public sector and 600,000-700,000 in the private sector as a result of the June Budget. (Not published, of course, but leaked. Shame there are no such leaks here).


@ Georg

One correction, US military spending has contunously risen throughout the recession and is now $717bn (5.4% of GDP, from 4.5% of GDP in 2007). This is guns, not butter.

Reagan is a bit of a red herring. It was the trade unionists in Solidarnosc that raised the Iron Curtain.

If Reagan suddenly came back from the astrological plane where he currently resides and ran against O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican primary he would lose. After all he greatly expanded the deficit, increased the size of the federal government, expanded social security in a big way, raised taxes during a recession, and started serious negotiations on eliminating all nuclear weapons – pretty much the polar opposite of the Tea Party.

When first California and then the US Supreme Court found laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional a majority of Americans opposed it, and no doubt blamed activist judges for thwarting the will of the people. In a republic, as against a democracy, however individuals and minorities have rights – the system is not simply one of majority rule. Once it was apparent that the sky didn’t actually fall down, interracial marriage was quickly accepted, and nobody would seriously argue today that the clock should be turned back. Libertarian conservatives have generally supported same-sex marriage on the basis that, even if they disapprove, people should be allowed to do as they want provided it doesn’t harm others. Evangelical conservatives want to proscribe it on the basis that it is unnatural and contrary to God’s law, so there have always been two camps on this issue in the broader right-wing movement.

@Bryam G

I have no strong views on same-sex marriage. I am not necessarily against it. I was merely pointing out (in reply to you saying: “America is not becoming more socially conservative – in fact the opposite is happening”) that, of the 31 States who voted on it in referendum, all 31 voted against it. That would seem to indicate quite a strong degree of social conservatism.


The issue is the trend – which is towards its acceptance rather than away from it. Nationally about 50% support it, up from 20-25% a few years ago. Also in almost all states, including conservative ones, a majority of people under 30 support it, so as newer voters replace the older ones the trend is likely to continue.

There are good reasons to argue that the rise in support for extreme right wing parties is less threatening than some fear. Europe in 1930 had a lot of other problems that lead to Hitler and war. The Depression happened only a decade after the demise of three central and east European empires. Austro-Hungary had disappeared, Russia’s western boundary had been pushed eastwards after three centuries of advancing westwards and Germany had lost its eastern marchlands. The new states that emerged from the rubble were mostly born in violence: Poland fought a war with the new Soviet regime which it barely won, Finland had a bloody civil war (it eclipsed Ireland’s in its viciousness), Hungary had a civil war and the Baltic states needed armed Western intervention to prevent them being reabsorbed into Russia. The “German Question” was still unresolved and Hitler harnessed Germans’ resentment at their defeat and an excellent army that had authoritarian instincts to push Europe into war. Wilhelmine Germany was no liberal democracy and Weimar’s many failures in its very short life had not endeared many Germans to democracy’s virtues. By 1938 of the new states only Czechoslovakia and Finland (and Ireland) were still functioning democracies.

Post 1989 eastern Europe by contrast was born with almost no violence. Romania and the disintegration of Yugoslavia are the exceptions. The new or newly independent states have had over 20 years of relative prosperity and all are democracies (poorly functioning in some cases like Romania and Bulgaria to be sure but even there the rudiments are in place). Most importantly Germany and Russia are not going to plunge Europe into war and the smaller countries don’t have the will (except maybe the right wing fringe in Hungary) or the capacity. Germany has no territorial ambitions and the modern German military is not the Wehrmacht either in ethos or capability. Russia has been pushed further east than at any time since at least 1700. The Red Army is a pale shadow of what it once was (or at least of what NATO’s planners once thought it was). It had a hard time attacking Georgia so taking on a NATO force is inconceivable. I don’t think that Swedes harbour a wish to regain their pre-1700 Baltic empire.

Remember that the established democracies (France, Britain, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, Switzerland, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) did not succumb to fascism in the 1930s under circumstances that were a lot worse than anything we have seen recently. There has always been a nasty right-wing fringe in most developed countries that ebbs and flows. Think of Britain’s National Front, the Netherlands’ Pim Fortuyn and Austria’s Georg Haidar. We tend to forget the upheavals of the past precisely because they came to nothing. France survived Algeria and 1968, Britain and Ireland survived the IRA, Germany survived Baader-Meinhoff, the US survived Vietnam,Italy survived the Red Brigades and we all survived the stagflation of the 1970s. Liberal Democracy is a hardy plant once it gets established and eastern Europe looks to my, admittedly amateur, eye to be a place where that plant is mostly well rooted. This too will pass.


I think that you are very mistaken to attribute the Geert Wilders vote to the economic downturn. Wilder’s predecessor the murdered Pim Fortuyn got 17% and 26 seats in 2002 – more votes and more seats than Wilders 8 years ago and targeting voters with the same leftwing – rightwing policy mix.

I admire your work greatly, reading one of your books right now, but think you are fitting the facts to match your pre-conceptions on this one

@EWI WHat I wrote was ‘pseudo aboriginal identity’ – the Gaelic / celtic ‘race’ is a fiction created by fringe British Isles wannabe racists who didn’t even realise they were franchising an antiquarian middle-class British Victorian hobby to a large and largely illiterate peasant population.

Well, let’s take a short run through that lovely little article you did for the WSJ.

“The EU now has 21 official languages. But unlike Irish, even the smallest of them, like Maltese, Estonian, and Lithuanian are spoken by people who live in the real world.”

I believe that native Irish speakers are very much still alive and indeed conducting their lives as Gaeilge (to say nothing of the Gaeilscoileanna). I would guess that the vast majority of people would agree with this assertion, which I guess puts us outside of Paul’s ‘real world’. But let’s move on.

“The Irish-language regime has fostered an ethnocentric definition of culture that has relegated non-indigenous and Anglo-Irish culture to second-class status. The de facto reality-including the reality that most of what is worthy about the real culture of Ireland has its origin in Britain, Continental Europe and the U.S. — has been wished away.”

Apart from the very serious problems with the distinction that Paul draws here between Gaelic and “Anglo-Irish” culture – ahem? – I’m trying to imagine his applying these arguments to, say, the Hispanic population of the US. Would Paul McDonnell support the rights of Spanish-speakers in the USA? If not, why not?

“By using the educational system and official “arts” policy to colonize the minds of generations of Irish with a pseudo-aboriginal ethnicity, the promoters of this policy have replaced what would have been a real culture with a fake culture.”

And here we come to it. I must say that I hadn’t realised until now how all of that Yeats that was forced down my throat had been in Irish.

“This is why so many people in Ireland know nothing of our British, American and European cultural heritage.”

American heritage, you say…? European heritage…? (Somehow I doubt that Republican France is being referenced here) If I state my suspicion here that what you refer to is the WASP view of the world as an Anglo-Saxon oyster, with the Romans and Greeks the unwilling adopted ‘parents’ of English culture, would you deny it?

“state-created pseudo culture-homelands — Gaeltacht areas”


“The promotion of “native” culture is driven by cultural nationalism. As a political force, cultural nationalism broke out all over Europe in the 1920s and 1930s — when Fascism, Nazism and Irish Nationalism spawned myths that Europe’s nations had once been racially and culturally pure and that this purity could be regained through state intervention. In Germany intervention meant mass murder and war. In Ireland it meant, in addition to unofficial IRA terrorism, official measures to change the everyday spoken language from English to Irish. This wasn’t as nasty as mass extermination. But it was just as preposterous. Also, old scores could be settled — against Jews, homosexuals and, in Ireland, Protestants. There was no better way of ethnically cleansing Ireland of “West-Brits” than to make the language compulsory in schools and for state jobs.”

I note with interest the care you take to place your outbreak of “cultural nationalism” in the twenties or thirties, where you could conveniently disassociate it from the general romantic movement of the late nineteenth century – and the Anglo Irish Protestants who embraced it, like Douglas Hyde. Instead, the unwary readers of the SWJ were told, it is to be associated with Nazism(!), and was a weapon of genocide against Protestants – who knew? And, alas, no mention of a certain large success that government policy has had in Ireland in the past in changing the spoken tongue – who fears to speak of the Penal Laws and English colonialism? Why, Paul McDonnell, it seems…


@Paul O’Donnell
” eh…’Reagan would be horrified at the accusation’? Really?
Oh I get it. You are on the ‘Religion is anti-Enlightenment’ Dawkins bandwagon that is life’s current popular cheat to faking intelligence and tolerance, right? Reagan was religious – sort of.

Look. Just read Edmund Burke and get back to me.”

If anyone understands this could they get back to me?

When these people meet an argument they can’t they retreat to some pre-oreoared hate objects. Are these people even Irish?

The only thing that will change this country is the bond markets and the swaps. They will cleanse not just the economic system but the political system.

“once customs are established and prejudices ingrained, it is a dangerous and futile enterprise to try and change them. The people cannot bare to have the disease treated, even in order to destroy it”. Anyone know their history?

Paul MacDonnell

The policy-induced reduction in effective demand raises the uemployment rate. It thereby decreases tax revenues and increases welfare payments (even as welfare benefits are cut). As the economy turns downwards the deficits go higher.

Ireland’s Thatcherites ought to know that under their heroine the deficit rose, and government finances were only saved by a North Sea oil bonanza equivalent to 17% of GDP, which will not be repeated in either country.

Interesting naalysis here from the New Republic:

“The conservative movement has spent the last 20 months sowing hysteria about President Obama’s agenda. The most respectable Republicans call the president a socialist, a radical, a threat to freedom. The less respectable Republicans, many of them highly influential, call him an alien, a sympathizer of radical Islam, a conscious enemy of the United States who is trying to wreck the economy. Obama is a dangerous figure, he cannot be compromised with, and the fight against him is a twilight struggle to save the last vestiges of the Republic.”


My view is that American society is polarising. That is really bad news. Having a bell curve across the spectrum tends to keep a reasonably (internally) peaceful state of affairs. There are too many nutters in the US these days…. and what’s even more frightening is that they’ve all got guns.

@Rory O’Farrell “But how do the Teabaggers hope to pay for all their shootin’ and fighin’, once they take back America (and Iran). I suspect they will need to raise taxes.”

The Tea Party types are almost exclusively isolationists. They want no foreign wars and they want the boys (and girls) back at home now. Most of them know little of the world beyond America’s borders and care even less.

@John Kehoe – “Most of them know little of the world beyond America’s borders and care even less.”

Having been to the USA many times, I would say you’ve just described 95% of the American population. Looks like the Teabaggers are going to sweep to victory over there then.

@ John Kehoe

Most of them know little of the world beyond America’s borders and care even less.

They know that the UN/World Government and International Jihad are plotting to subjugate the US. Manifested in such nefarious schemes as the UN Bicycle Plot:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.
Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”
“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

He added: “These aren’t just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”


@Paul MacDonnell


Bin doin a bit of cleaning up Paul? Looks like this page and the http://www.openrepublic.org has popped into a little black hole ………

Now who might not have been too happy on this particular board? Must say I was rather surprised at one of the members included before its deletion in the past 24 hours ……… tall guy, one of Blessed John Henry’s crowd …. and generally well respected …… think it is for the best.

Looking forward to the launch of the NewOpenRepublic.org ………… (-;

@Paul McDonnell

Strange! Both links were “live” when I tossed it in on Thursday as above …… yet by yesterday all links had been ‘decommissioned’ … but not to worry Paul – your friends in A. N. Other Republic_an party ‘cached’ a few details ….. market free of course….. no need to resort to ..er… state funding in an era of ‘Politics in Hard Times’ which is the focus of the present thread ..


Over and out.

@ Paul MacDonnell

Dear, oh dear. You appear to be fighting a strawman – or is that a bogeyman? – but I’ll keep on with this exchange of views nonetheless.

Look at the top of your own post for your other quote of mine: ‘..the Gaelic / celtic ‘race’ is a fiction created by fringe British Isles wannabe racists who didn’t even realise they were franchising an antiquarian middle-class British VICTorian hobby’. It’s the first thing I mention.


I didn’t assert that native Irish speakers were dead. I didn’t suggest that they weren’t conducting their lives as Gaelge and nor did I assert that most people in Ireland disagree with the current policy. Your assertion of these things ignores my argument that the programme of promoting ‘native culture’ (an anthropological construct – made fashionable by educated Victorian enthusiasts – which in Ireland means people like Hyde and Yeats – enthusiasts at the beginning of a movement)

The assertion that the Gaelic language and culture is an “anthropological construct” seems rather odd (at best). I’ve left a little present for you at the end of this comment, to illustrate the point.

It also reminds me of the old Tory/Unionist canard about there being ‘no such thing as an Irishman’. But I’ll admit that an appeal to rejecting the Gaelic language and culture by way of an appeal to anti-colonialism is novel – and rather reminiscent of what fringe Marxist groups argue, curiously enough.

became a programme of mass state group-think designed to repel ‘foreign’ (i.e. English / American) influences. What I asserted was that the policy is a mistake NOT on a financial level but, more importantly, on a cultural level. In essence it’s a policy of the Irish playing up to a British anthopological / Romantic noble savage stereotype – it’s why the narrative about Michael O’M retiring is almost designed to suggest his ‘nobility’ and ‘purity’. The subtext of much criticism of my own position reflects this quintessentially Victorian British view that I am somehow opposed to the noble ‘authenticity’ of the Celtic savage and am embracing the brutish imperial Anglo-saxon oppressor.

As to your quite remarkable casting of Michéal Ó Muircheartaigh as a ‘noble savage’ and the rest of it – are you sure that there isn’t an element of jealousy here? After all, the name of Michéal Ó Muircheartaigh, a well-beloved voice on All-Ireland day will be remembered for a long time after his eventual death, while that of Paul McDonnell (of the very refined D4 tastes) at present seems fated for obscurity. Are you sure that that’s not it?

2) Would I support the rights of Spanish speakers in the USA?

If by ‘rights’ you mean ‘language rights’ then NO. I don’t believe in group or ‘cultural’ rights. I only believe in individual rights.

So, you either do or don’t support US Republican efforts to legislate against Spanish as a vernacular (official or unofficial) in regions with Hispanic populations…?

3. I didn’t say ‘forced’. What I said was ‘colonised’ There are plenty of useful idiots who go along with it.

“Useful idiots” are those who would study the old vernacular of this country, and one of the most beautiful languages in Europe? If that is ‘idiocy’ then let there be more of it, I say. Although it has always perplexed me how some diehard enthusiasts in this country for ‘dead’ languages (actually, genuinely, for real) such as Latin or Classical Greek also hold the most dreadful hatred of Gaelic – as a dead, useless language, they often say without a hint of irony.

(I believe you are well acquainted with one such individual holding both these views at once, namely Richard Waghorne.)

4) No I include Republican France. My basic thesis is that the ‘native culture’ movement and policy in Ireland is a project to either prevent or – at the very least – provide nativist passport control services over all ‘foreign’ culture passing into the country.

I am flabbergasted at such a grand conspiracy to shut out foreign culture, and must congratulate you on unearthing it. No doubt you have some evidence with which to back these claims up, which you will do us all the great service of getting into print or on camera as soon as possible. A photo of Michael D. Higgins caught burning copies of Bridget Jones will do, in a pinch.

Chaucer I’m sure you know didn’t need to do this. His stories are, in many cases, translations / adaptations of classical or mainstream French or Italian medievel literature. The English love him as their first great English language poet not because he promoted the notion of England as a pure race with a pure culture but because he’s educating the English in European civillisation and, thereby, making them part of it.

Really? I Googled “Chaucer English Poet” and I get 2,170,000 results, the first bunch being rather heavy in UK websites. I try “Chaucer European Poet” and I get 601,000 results, rather less well-represented by GB-based sites.

But then I dimly remembered an aspect of your biographical detail, spotted back from when yourself and the Russian had that website and I had some fun with yourselves and the FI. Of which enlightening detail more anon.

Meanwhile st secondary school we were getting Peig Sayers (which you, no doubt, loved).

I have no knowledge of Péig Sayers, I’m afraid, it being before my time. Incidentally, Irish had the distinction in my youth of being one of two classes – the other being Religion – to which I took strong exception to the method of instruction, particularly as the use of corporal punishment was still popular in the parts of the Catholic schools system that I (rather unfortunately) attended.

See? If you had just said to me “Why, Irish is as worthy a subject to learn as dead Latin, but isn’t how it was taught and to a degree still is dreadful?” then we would have been in agreement. Instead, you had to perhaps ruin any chance of common ground with an insulting diatribe against the Gaelic language and culture which no doubt goes down a treat for your circle in the Kildare Street and University Club of an evening, but I’m afraid doesn’t have much purchase outside those rarefied elitist surroundings.

5) Your point about Douglas Hyde is answered at the top of this post. The original enthusiasts for Romanticism and ideas of the pure races and culture of Europe go back to the 18th century they are very strong in the late 19th century but they ‘break out’ as I put it in my WSJ piece, in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe – by which I mean they become enshrined into state programmes and considerations of policy – including foreign policy.

Oh, I’m sorry. So they “break out'”in the 1920s and ’30s, you meant to say? Well, I will of course take you at your word. Though it does seem an unfortunate source of confusion that you ascribe the motives of ethnically-cleansing Protestants to a movement which prominently features, well, Protestants. If you know what I mean.

6) Of course I do not fear to speak of the British. In the Elizabethen era England was a Protestant super state and Ireland bore the same relation to it as Cuba did to the US in the 1950s. Ireland was a terrifying security risk and its native inhabitants were regarded as barely human. My WSJ article does say that Ireland was ‘cut’ by Protestantism.

Well, my significant other’s beloved pet cat ‘cut’ her with a claw by accident the other day, but I’m not going to start equating it with laws and a political regime that make Apartheid seem tame by comparison.

And the ‘terrifying security risk’ claim seems popular even today in Westminster, I note (“45 minutes” rings a bell), and still just as much self-justifying nonsense.

The question isn’t did the British Protestant state and its representatives here commit crimes and exclude most people from politics thus engendering all kinds of trouble. Clearly they did. The question is whether we in Ireland have enough good sense and taste to recognise that our own own twee brand of native identity

‘”Twee” is your own word, so perhaps for the entertainment value you midget like to elaborate upon what exactly you find so embarrassing about Irish culture for your refined tastes? It’s pure comedy gold so far, so I’m expecting good stuff here.

is in fact merely playing up to this British Anthropological role that’s been super imposed upon the country since at least the 19th Century and, despite, the devious insistence that Protestants are at the heart of the Gaelic movement – they certainly aren’t now and how their population imploded after independence (you sound like a sociology graduate – there’s evidence of ‘victimhood’ you could get a PhD in surely?)

“the devious insistence that Protestants are at the heart of the Gaelic movement ”

Deviousness, eh? Say, is this related to the vast conspiracy against Anglo-Saxons that you promised us about above? Because I know some guys who are convinced that the EU is a plot, and y’know, you guys should really get together and such. It’d be awesome.

In all seriousness, if you wish us to take seriously this mad notion, you’re going to have to produce some proof outside of the fantasies of the fringes of Ulster Unionsim or English Toryism. Because otherwise, if you wrote this tripe in a letter to say the IT, you’d be in for several weeks of being used as a rhetorical punchbag by that paper’s (many Protestant) readers.

Look I grew up in Dublin. Irish hasn’t been spoke here since – what? – before the Vikings?

Curing ignorance, I’ve found as I’ve grown older, is a worthwhile endeavor only when you can reasonably expect a desire to learn. However, as often, I find myself hoping against hope and so direct you to the listings of Gaelic-language primary and secondary schools in Dublin:


As well, I believe that there you may benefit from studying the history of your own city, and learning that the Vikings became Hibernicised just as the Old English were to be later (the reversal of which de facto situation was the point of the Statutes of Kilkenny, after all). A visit to some of the Irish-speaking units of the Defence Forces in Dublin may also prove educational.

So for me to go along with the nativist culture argument would be just ridiculous. All those people you say are engaged in it are, if you care to look, either on a government salary, government grants or various forms of social welfare (citing them merely begs the question).

“Social welfare”? (Zounds.) So, what, exactly? You object to the Irish language and culture because you see it as a redistribution of wealth…? I do have to say here, that your arguments are rather descending into propeller-head reasoning.

I mean look. I like the Canterbury Tales. Now what is the Irish literature equivalent to that and have you read it or are you just taking a gigantic pretentious posture?

If you must ask, I can (off the top of my head, no peeking at Wikipedia, scout’s honour) name both the Ulster Cycle and the Fenian Cycle (the latter one of the major sources for the King Arthur mythos), as well as Keating and the Four Masters – all familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of Irish literature, and justly famous and well-regarded. Are you really claiming that these aren’t known to you?

As to the Cantebury Tales, I am delighted that you do like and value them, though I fear to myself and the vast majority of Irish people Gaelic is a good deal more intelligible than Middle English. I’m aware that you did your primary degree in Middle English classics – but I fear that like Mr. Waghorne, your reasoning seems inadequate to grasping the incompatibility of simultaneously condemning a rich language and culture which still has life and relevance in it.

You are marvellous. You are performing exactly to script. Your post gets even better.

I’d recommend that you check your blood pressure, just to be safe. Given the tenor, I’d say that veins are already starting to throb somewhere.

One last word. You quote Burke above, yet seem ignorant that he enjoyed what seems a reasonably thorough grounding in the language and culture of Gaelic Ireland. Perhaps it would profit you to ponder on the enrichment and flexibility this gave to his intellectual and cultural development? (I suggest a start with the Burke chapter in Thomas McLoughlin’s Contesting Ireland)

@ David O’Donnell

While the domain still appears to be owned by them, they’ve taken down the content (as the Freedom Institute made sure to do, also). The Wayback Machine/Internet Archive still stores all of it, though, for students of comedy. To access it, just drill down from this webpage:


We’ll never have to ponder the existential question as to what happens when you mix together Constantin Gurdgiev, Moore McDowell, an insurance industry lobbyist and fifty bob to register a website.

@Kevin O’Rourke

Yes. Spot on on Sweden – the zenophobes gained their 4%+ resulting in 20 seats. Minority Centre right gov and the social democrats get a bit of a pasting.
Worth noting that Sweden has been to the fore in taking in some of the circa 700,000 [of about a million] Christians forced out of Iraq due to A. N. Other neo-con travesty ……

Time to get a bit scared is when the lower middle class rally to these groups ……. this is the lesson from the 1930s ……….

….. and not looking too good for Elizabeth Warren …… this is Political Economy …. and the centre will hold (-;

@ Paul McDonnell

In the real world you’re paid what your customers and employers think you’re worth based upon the value you add. If you were working in Supermacs your third-level qualification would not make any difference. It may be the case taht not only are you being paid unfairly but that you simply shouldn’t be enmployed at all – assuming your role could be abolished or privatised – which is almost certainly worth considering.

While I appreciate that your personal experiences are different – a fairly useless art degree followed by a career as a glorified PR bunny – I can assure you that in the real world there actually are qualifications which are required for certain occupations. Some of these may actually occur to you, if you think really hard.

How would we know? You hide behind anonymity yet threaten ‘revelations’ (That should be fun). Public sectors salaries and pensions (taken together) have long ago outstriped the private sector (and yes there is data to support this).

‘We’ know in the same way that I’m taking it on trust here that you’re actually Paul McDonnell and not merely some prankster intent on making him look bad. Don’t like it? Nothing I can do about this, I’m afraid.

I’m not sure what ‘revelations I’m supposed to have promised. Perhaps you can help out with a quote where I said this…?

Not surprised to see you throw in pensions with pay for your comparison. The behaviour of our supposed betters in the private sector – Rand’s supposed greater morality of capitalists – in the casual attitude to the provision of pensions to employees while lining their own nests with astonishing amounts of company money has been educational, to say the least.

The suggestion that your should be paid for your ‘qualifications’ and not the value you add is a sign of a view that you see your self as having a ’status’ rather than doing anything particularly useful.

Your degree in Middle English Classics useful to you, then? Somehow, I doubt it.

Economically nonsensical – work on it and it will become agitprop. The structural deficit is the problem. If our banks were wholly solvent and our developers were not bust the structural deficit – i.e. the difference between tax revenue and expenditure would be virtually the same. The reason why the banks are a problem is because they highlighting future problems. The government isn’t spending current revenue on the banks. But without them it would already be deteriorating to crisis proportions.

The ‘structural deficit’ is the lesser problem concerned to the loss of money down the toilet that trying to save doomed banks represents. This isn’t a matter of ‘agitprop’, but of what any fool not wedded to ideological nuttery can see.

Or as you might put it ‘It has for so long being my considered opinion that what many in the public sector lack is a proper grasp of the economics of Milton Friedman or, indeed, of any of the Austrian School; you may find it instructive to take yourself off to one of those lavishly-funded public sector libraries and see if you can absorb some of their wisdom. It is a cause of great sadness to me but something – God perhaps – keeps me going so that I can offer these pearls of wisdom to lesser mortals’

No idea what you’re on about here. If I may offer a suggestion, I’d suggest not drinking and commenting….

If only I could write as well as you.

I’d settle for a modicum of sense, if I were you.

I had posted on the ORI site a programme for the annihilation of some poor minority. But both EWH and yourself were about to stumble upon it and but before you could I, from my hollowed-out extinct volcano, took down the key pages. Is that it? Is that what you want me to tell you? Walt Disney knew from early in his career that children like to be frightened. You are clearly having a ball.

I’d suggest that you might like to invest in a tin-foil hat, but I’m rather afraid that you’ve already got that one covered.

My objection is to the project of cultural engineering and enormous state intervention that is require to promote what is in essence a bureaucrat’s idea of what this culture is.

The lack of self-awareness of how this very Modern English which we are exchanging views in is itself a product of “a bureaucrat’s idea of what this culture is.” is rather astonishing.

Your suggestion that Burke’s familiarity and affinity for Gaelic literature gave him some kind of nuance is, I’m afraid, exactly the sort of pompous snobbery,engendered by the Romantic view of the ‘mysterious’ Celts and is an early blast of pure hot air in your ‘argument’.

You have cited him as an outstanding mind (presumably his fame in the Anglophone world). I have merely pointed out to you Burkes’ unique status as a scion of a Gaelic family converting to Protestantism under the Penal Laws, that he straddled both worlds and clearly was at ease and conversant in both. You choose to take umbrage and once again refer to the ‘noble savage’ identity which you seem quite wedded to, and yet accuse me of being the prejudiced one…? Astonishingly insular and defensive. It shows a shallow mindset, I fear.

You seem to think that I am casting O Muircheartaign as a ‘noble savage’ without spotting what is obvious from my syntax and argument that it is the popular narrative that does this. I have no views on the man whatsoever good, bad or indifferent.

“No views”? What… curious phrasing. And it is hard to discern where the ‘noble savage’ image that you conjure of Michéal exists, other than inside the prejudices of one P. O’Donnell.

I am no doubt guilty of all sorts of vanity but wishing to be ‘fondly’ remembered by the Irish public and despair that Michael M. got there first is not one of them. You are very quaint. It made me smile.

You may wish to note the correct form of the man’s name. It is considered good manners, which that respected senior citizen has in clear abundance and you appear to lack.

MMM let me get off the fence. I absolutely do support these Republican efforts….thought I don’t know if you can characterise it as an attempt to legislate aginast ‘unofficial’ speaking / use of Spanish.

I think this one speaks for itself, and rather eloquently.

By the way you do realise that Irish was jettisoned by the people from after the famine because they were becoming literate – this was necessary for any economic progress. So it wasn’t rejection of Irish culture per se. It was rather an embracing of literacy. They had been illiterate in Irish and became literate in English.

Charming. So being an English speaker denotes ‘literacy’ in your eyes, and Gaelic ‘illiteracy’? I must say, the mask slips.

Which part of ‘I object to the coercive doctrine’ don’t you understand? I have the highest admiration for scholars and enthusiasts for any old / or living languages. I am a keen student of Latin myself. We are in heated agreement about the scholarly value of old and medieval Irish texts. And you’re right – I don’t know enough about them and would be keen to learn more. My objection is the the official policy of promoting ‘native culture’ on the basis that we’re all gonna start speaking this Irish esperanto as a modern European vernacular. It’s pretentious, vulgar and wasteful.

An ‘Irish esperanto’, you say? Curious. Esperanto was an invented language with no culture or history behind it. I know that you claim to have no feelings on the language – as you have with your backpedaling on Michéal Ó Muirecheartaigh above – but your choice of words speaks eloquently otherwise.

In fact I was on Levithian with David McW + Waghorne on this very subject a few years ago. And when I said to the (largely Irish language enthusiast) audience that I was a keen student of medieval English and of Latin but that by supporting this cultural engineering project of promoting ‘native culture’ they were digging their own cultural graves – the penny suddenly dropped for many of them.

I’m sure that this anecdote of a heroic victory by yourself and Waggy must be true.

You have to get the idea that people can be against state intervention to support something but not against that thing itself.

I don’t particularly subscribe to the hair-splitting and the reasoning acrobatics of libertarians: you may have noticed this.

Your description of those who study medieval Irish texts is telling. These people are VOLUNTEERS. They would be doing it regardless.

And your point is…?

Ireland’s legacy of censorship and the role of Catholicism and its enthusiasm in Ireland for the native culture project are – surely even you can see – connected to this.

Ireland’s ‘legacy of censorship’ owes vastly more to conservative (rural) Catholic mores than to any other cause, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the history of censorship in this country can tell you. If you want to argue that Playboy or A Clockwork Orange were banned because they weren’t in Irsih, then it makes you… well, an idiot, actually.

As those your association of the Catholic Church with ‘the native culture project’. I do not know what insights your own family’s lore may have for you, but in mine the enthusiasm of Catholic clergy to beat Irish out of the children of three generations back is still remembered.

Remember de Valera? Scholarly enthusiasm for Gaelic culture and literature is something I admire and would encourage. But those who promote a state programme to take up primary and secondary school courses with these things, pouring vast amounts of money at any organisation involved with them etc…are either knowingly or unknowingly seeking to crowd out by state intervention other activities. It sucks up resources that free individuals might choose to do something THEY want do do culturally – as it were. So we get interpretive centres, dreary school Irish programmes and coffee shops in Connemara with money that could have been used by a free individual to buy a copy of Dante’s Inferno which he would read because he WANTS to.

The democratically-elected governments of this country, you may care to note, have pursued a policy of promoting the Irish language of the national government (you may also be dimly aware of the status of Irish established in Bunreacht na h-Éireann). I suggest that you run for election if you wish to change these policies – it’s a free country, after all.

The point I’m makinig here is that only in the 1920s and 1930s with the advent and growth of mass education does the cultural nationalist programme in Europe / and Ireland really take off. It is one of the many reasons for events that led to two world wars.

I like the “/ and Ireland” – pure class. I commend you on your persistence in the face of the facts.

The confusion is all yours. The Irish cultural nationalist movement morphed from a scholarly / antiquarian enterprise (including lots of serious-minded Prods) to become the cultural adjunct to a (para)-militarised response to British rule. You do live in Ireland, right? So your logic: 1. Prods were involved and even instigators of the original Irish language movement. 2. Therefore any argument that the evolution of Irish cultural nationalism – as an asserted resurgence of the ancient Celtic race – provided ideological fuel for acts of violence against Protestants and an official language policy to make them feel less than wholly welcome in the Free State is non-starter because of 1) simply doesn’t stand. This is the ‘deviuos insistance’. Don’t get me wrong. 1. is true but it is deviuos to insist that it negates 2.

“acts of violence against Protestants”. Some elaboration on what you mean by this phrase would be welcome. I suspect that you are about to embarrass yourself in a whole new sphere, but we’ll see.

With regard to the ’security risk’. This is the case. The English were quite frightened of Ireland as a source of instability not just locally but also to the government of England. As an (Im sure) admirer of O’Neill etc.. you should, on their behalf, take the complement. Unfortunately your pomposity and anger has strangled your grace.

I’m ambivalent on the Ó Néill, not that it’s particularly germane to this discussion (however they started out, the Irish and Old English nobility were clearly well on the way to becoming like the rest of the parasitical European nobilities). The “quite frightened” is quite laughable as justification. And I’m intrigued by your use of the “instability…locally”. Are we about to see a re-formulation of the old wisdom of the Empire that the natives couldn’t be trusted to rule themselves?

My word. You really are a pompous fellow. I point out that the language hasn’t been spoke in Dublin for a thousand years (or whatever) and you counter with ‘But there’s a gaelscol in Monkstown’. Is that the best you can do?

You displayed some regrettable ignorance of the linguistic past of the city, and I have merely helped a fellow out by pointing out that “not since before the Vikings” is as historically dubious as the English-speaking cast of Braveheart. But expectation of gratitude, one supposes, isn’t a pre-requisite for acts of charity…

My point is that Irish is not spoken in Dublin. There is more Polish / German / Hindi / Cantonese being spoken in Dublin now than Irish. None of these requires state support.

You may wish to revisit that confident assumption (among many others). I happen to be familiar with the Polish embassy’s support for Polish-language schooling of the children of immigrants here, at least.

Simply pointing to state-funded schools devoted to it is begging the question. And the question is: ‘Should the state take taxes from people to promote a language that virtually no-one – outside of the McLuhanesque world (the medium is the message) of Irish language schools, bodies and broadcasting – actually uses to get information across – like the Poles and Chinese are doing in Dublin right now?

See my advisory note to you on democratic legitimacy, above.

Again I don’t know why you don’t see the difference between what the individual chooses to love and do to and a state programme to promote a culture on the other hand.

If you wish to speak of educational policy, then that’s a different debate. Plus, state, democracy, that stuff (I realize that the ‘D’ word sticks in the craw of libertarians and Chicagoists, the educated version).

Your argument is nothing is not a straw-man argument. You will find nothing that I have ever written or posted anywhere that denigrates Irish literature.

Excepting your very words, unfortunately.

Perhaps it would profit you to ponder on the enrichment and flexibility this gave to his intellectual and cultural development?’

Wonderfully pompous.

It was good advice, freely offered; yet sadly wasted on a fool I fear. Still, at least I derived some good entertainment from the exchange, for which I want to express heartfelt thanks.

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