I read this exchange the other day between Pat Cox and Joe Higgins. Wetting itself with excitement, the Irish Times describes it as a ‘duel’ in which the antagonists ‘cross swords’ on the question of the EU. Via e-mail. Well, this digital bout of wigs on the green indeed is mostly unreadable, since there is zero convergence on anything. It is like watching a pig arguing with a rooster. I am naturally more sympathetic to Higgins’s viewpoint, and judge him to be broadly correct in his criticisms, but when he says that a No vote could be ‘a rallying cry that a very different society could be built on a very different basis where their welfare would take precedence over corporate profit’, I think he’s engaging in the sort of wishful thinking I mentioned a while back. I’m guessing that the vast majority of European workers don’t really care what happens in Ireland. It isn’t all that important. People I have spoken to in that place we call ‘on the continent’ tell me that the Irish No vote is seen as a bout of idiosyncratic truculence, a consequence of living on an island, whenever it actually impinges on people’s consciousness, which is nowhere near as often as many seem to think. However, Cox is just, ach..
Most of all such casual indifference misses a key point that Ireland has been not merely a member but also a respected player in the EU.
Team play counts. Reputation, standing and team spirit matter to all relations – personal, national and international. Reputation and the influence it carries for a small state is hard earned but can be easily squandered. The result of our vote will speak volumes about how we, the Irish, see ourselves early in the 21st century and about where we feel we belong.
Now I have multiple stab-wound sized problems with this, not least the reference to the early 21st century. Superfluous reminders about what time it is never go down well with me. But here is my main problem. Cox says Ireland is a ‘respected player’ in the European Union, but does not mention what the game is. The failure to specify the game leads me to think that the only game is the game defined by the player, and that therefore he really means playa.
The Urban Dictionary helpfully defines playa:
A person who is competitive and gregarious by nature.
The skill of a playa is measured by the extent of his or her “game.” The more “game” a playa has, the more respect they command in their community.
A person who has enough game (and hence, enough respect) can do whatever they want, dress however awful (or tacky) they want, say whatever crazy things they want to say, and still win the adoration of others. Often these skills are used to earn sexual or material favors, although not by necessity.
Game recognizes game, and a true playa will always give respect to a fellow playa when it is due. People who ignore (read: fail to notice), criticize, or alienate themselves from a playa without just cause is referred to as a “playa hater.”
Cox, then, is neither so intellectually impoverished that he thinks of European politics as the parish GAA team writ large, nor so condescending that he thinks he is making a cunning appeal to the more parochially minded among his potential audience. No: he is astutely laying the ground for Higgins to appear as a playa hater: the worst of slurs in the corridors of EU power.