Archive for February 18th, 2010

Rat Gnaws Mast Of Sinking Ship

A member of the Green Party (not me, never was and never will be) writes:

Lowest standard once again wins the day – The Irish Times – Thu, Feb 18, 2010

O’Dea has damaged our democratic process in three distinct ways: he has falsely maligned a candidate in an election; he has given false evidence to the High Court upon which it relied; and thirdly, and perhaps most damning of all, he has declared from the Dáil, the very centre of our democracy, that his conduct is perfectly acceptable and that those who would take him to task are hypocrites.

I am saddened both as a lawyer and member of the Green Party, but perhaps mostly as a citizen, that last night the Dáil supported a motion of confidence in Willie O’Dea. There was something pathetic about it all, a mean-spirited loyalty to colleague over country, a reinforcement of the sense of them and us, an overarching and deep feeling that once again the lowest standard wins the day.

Watching O’Dea in the Dáil yesterday was almost surreal, like watching an imperturbable giant rat gnaw its way through the mast of a leaking ship on troubled seas, with most of the crew lighting their own farts, calling for to let the rat get on with it as though it were their only hope.

Why does Fianna Fáil persist in such scandalous conduct, at the height of a massive economic crisis, as public trust in political institutions sinks to new lows? For the same reason that a dog licks its own bollocks: because it can. The only thing Fianna Fáil exists for is the consolidation of power in the hands of a gombeen bourgeoisie, to use Perry Anderson’s attractive term once more. It has no truck with truth, or justice, or democracy, whenever the application of such concepts conflicts with its own ends.

I used to think Fianna Fáil corruption was of secondary importance to the broader matters of class domination and corporate power in Irish society. But it is becoming fairly clear to me, somewhat belatedly, that its bare-faced corruption, with the corrosive disenchantment and apathy that it creates among vast swathes of the population, is in itself a devastatingly effective instrument for maintaining the rule of the gombeen bourgeoisie. It reduces the idea of politics to junk, to a series of farcical set-pieces in which private morality is the order of the day, electoral politics is a sham and democratic participation is kept to an absolute minimum. The role of the Green Party in this is to lend the whole corrupt exercise a patina of moral high-mindedness and disinterestedness: saying, “yes we know they’re corrupt, but we are still working with them for the good of the country”, as though by sheer force of their glowing moral character they could become the agents of Fianna Fáil’s redemption. They are Fianna Fáil’s useful idiots.

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February 2010