Support My Proposal For An End To Cynicism

Regular readers of this site will know that I am not one for self-promotion. But in a time of national crisis, I believe it is important for each of us to step up to the plate and passionately support our own ideas for the good of the country. No more hiding lights under a bushel.

As Ferdinand Von Prondzynski observes in today’s Irish Times.

It’s time for some optimism and self-confidence to sort out the mess – The Irish Times – Tue, Mar 02, 2010

In any case, cynicism is a progressive disease that destroys the organism as it spreads. If we continue to wallow in our mood of pessimism we are not just robbing ourselves of the energy to get ourselves out of the mess, we are persuading others looking at us from outside that we are not a good bet because we don’t have the determination to get over our recent losses and roll up our sleeves to create something better.

So unless we think cynicism and sarcasm are such fun that national decline and poverty are a price worth paying, let us get into the spirit of national regeneration and economic recovery. Let us show some determination and optimism. Submit a proposal to

I must disagree. If you think the best proposals are already on the site, do not trouble yourself trying to come up with something else: spend the time updating your CV instead. Like the Google man on the radio said yesterday alongside Ferdinand, the average 2010 graduate, in this brave new era of freedom, will have 20-30 jobs in his or her lifetime, so you’ll need the practice. Make sure you polish up on your grammar and spelling, because that’s the sort of thing that will lead Google to throw your CV in the Recycle Bin. And they don’t teach that sort of thing at DCU.

But do not set about this before you register your support for my proposal for Mandatory Clown Suits For Social Welfare Recipients. 24 other people have overcome the paralysing cynicism of the moment to register their support, and I encourage you to join us.


10 Responses to “Support My Proposal For An End To Cynicism”

  1. 1 Ciarán March 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

    …cynicism is a progressive disease that destroys the organism as it spreads.

    Yeah yeah. He would say that wouldn’t he?

      • 3 coc March 6, 2010 at 9:24 pm

        Professor, have you even read the dross submitted on that carnival of halfwits?

      • 4 Ciarán March 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

        Oh don’t worry – I just figured at that point that anyone who talks about the disease of cynicism requires a ‘yeah yeah’ right back at them.

        On a more substantive note, I’m with Hugh. One ought not dismiss critique as cynicism. PLUS there are times when cynicism is precisely the appropriate response. For instance, if we have long experience of the political and business elite of a society fobbing the citizenry off with nationalist, neoliberal and pothole-fixing circuses (with a few crumbs of bread thrown in now and then) it would seem that cynicism is precisely the sane, er, undiseased attitude to adopt.

  2. 5 Hugh Green March 2, 2010 at 11:16 am

    What Ferdinand is blind to, not unsurprisingly, is that cynicism is always a relative attitude, not an absolute one. People can be cynical toward things for all sorts of excellent reasons. For instance I think it is an excellent thing indeed to be cynical toward the accusation of ‘cynicism’ when deployed as a means of quelling opposition to the dominant order of things.

    Barbara Ehrenreich’s Smile or Die is an excellent investigation into the application of positive thinking in businesses and even -shock horror probe- universities, and its presentation as though it were some sort of scientific discipline when in fact it’s just a method of getting people to shut up and take their medicine, normally in the form of precarious employment and doing more work for less money.

  3. 6 Ciarán March 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    My assinine joking aside I completely agree Hugh. There’s nothing more galling than being accused of cynicism when you don’t take it from these people, but then they counter with ‘aw fuck here they go again: booooooring‘ when you yet again remind them that their predilictions have no basis beyond their fantasies.

    Certainly universities are great examples of this in the way they’re run. The number of times I’ve seen senior managers’ eyes glaze over when you point out that their grand schemes are limited by ‘facts’ or ‘external constraints’ or, god forbid, ‘resources.’

    Then also there’s the talking of loads of aul bollicks about higher education (with all respect to Chekov, who’s stuff I generally think is good and who didn’t write this), whereby buying expertise from Harvard will suddenly transform Belfast into a new San Jose. Because you know, Northern Ireland needs as many aspiring management consultants as it can get.

    Er, rant over. Is it obvious I’ve been banging my head off an admin wall all day?

    • 7 Hugh Green March 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm

      One of the key things here, I think, is that a core skill of management these days is precisely this activity of pushing positivity in the face of circumstances where a confrontation with reality would undermine organisational goals. The skill lies in not even allowing the people you’re managing to get round to questioning whether or not x is a good idea: one must simply move forward with x, because that is how we can best move forward. To bring into question x is to bring into question the entire raison d’etre of this place, and you don’t want to be doing that…

      AS for the proposal ‘what NI needs is a higher echelon of experts to guide the rest of us’, well, all I can say is that the sun is shining on the nothing new in this particular instance.

  4. 8 coc March 2, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Is there not something creepy about and the way we’ll all be urged to submit half baked proposals to a website? Did the same gaggle of media whores not run similar farce last year? Do they think we’re all so stupid as to spend all hours laughing at the ineptitude of our fellow citizens online rather than taking to the streets?

    I myself have wasted countless hours mocking the comical efforts submitted and on more than one occasion have wondered if it is not all an elaborate joke at the taxpayers expense.

    Maybe they’re right …

    • 9 Hugh Green March 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      I think you’re giving them too much credit: they really believe in this stuff. As a means of demonstrating how open-heartedly positive they are. Because deep down they’re cynics too.

  5. 10 Eoin March 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Coc: you mean as a way to soak up cynicism?

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