Y’know, the idea that the present shenanigans represent some sort of nadir in the life of Irish democracy rankles with me. It is not that I think the self-absorbed buffoonery of these crooks is somehow harmless: on the contrary, it heightens ordinary people’s desperation with politics once the glow of farce fades. It is that I feel no attachment whatever to the chambers of the institutions lots of people about me seem to hold dear. You hear so much of what has gone on over the past three or four years as being an unprecedented event ‘since the foundation of the State’, as though the foundation of the State were the momentous Year Zero for Who We Are As A People. Well, ‘the State’ never meant shit to me, and it never will. It confines victims of torture to places like Mosney, prohibits them from working, and chucks them €19 quid a week pocket money. Perhaps I missed out on some school trip to the Dáil chambers where the essence of democracy wafts up off the smell of the blue carpet (it’s blue, right?), and the voices of the founding fathers reverberate silently about your head, and you skip out gaily down Molesworth Street aglow with the knowledge that, truly, the world is our oyster, and the Department of Social Protection is YOUR Department.
There was a priest on Joe Duffy earlier on talking about how the deportment of the Fianna Fáil TDs was important because regardless of what you thought about the likes of De Valera, and whatever about the dark history of the time, there was a dignity and a respect for the institutions and the people who elected them there. Well, perhaps adding insult to injury is never advisable, but the brute facts of the Irish situation -basically, the conversion of workers in Ireland to debt peonage in order to sate the appetites of corporate oligarchs- would not be altered a jot if all TDs carried themselves like, I dunno, Ciaran Cuffe.
And it is probably true that post-1990s prosperity suffused political operators with a lofty self-satisfaction, and an infatuation with the clammy embrace of Smart CEOs Who Meant Business, and that the spurn of this embrace, come the crisis, caused many of these people to befoul themselves in the most grubby fashion imaginable. But we should be wary that the role of these people now, after the population has been suitably browbeaten into believing in a EU-ECB-IMF fait accompli, that intensified neo-liberalism is the only course of action, is to exist as mediated gargoyles -a representation, for the corporate state and the official bearers of its good news, whether they are suave spoofers of the parties of government or economistic Howard Beales, of the evil of what happens whenever everyday people think they can exercise some sort of control over their destiny. Resist.