Idealism

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We live in strange times, when you realise that one of the better possible outcomes of this election would be Gerry Adams as Taoiseach.

But there are so many ways it could be worse than that. Worst of all would be a return to power of Fianna Fáil. And the return of Ireland to the zero-sum game that most of last century was wasted on, where people give their loyalty to parties for much the same reasons they give it to football teams.

So I cannot bring myself to vote for the coalition parties just to keep FF out. That would be to join in the zero-sum game. There is a real chance in this election of bringing in a government that includes neither of the big two conservatives, for the first time ever. That would really be something.

Even if it had to include Labour, yes. Indeed that may be their only hope for salvation as a party. (If the question is not theoretical – there will be precious few Labour TDS after this collaboration with the punishment regime.) Their choice will be to join with Sinn Féin and other groups on the (very) broad left, or forever be seen as the condom Fine Gael use when they fuck us.
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Second only to the return of FF, the worst possible outcome of this election would be if people believed that the ritual sacrifice of our poor to the austerity gods returned prosperity to the land. In fact our economy is so naked to outside forces that government action has very little to do with its ups and downs – as FG will be only to happy to explain themselves if they’re in power when everything tanks again, in a year or two. So even if you think this is a recovery, it’s not a good reason to reward the parties. They didn’t start it, they can’t keep it going.
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The worst outcome wouldn’t be a FF/FG alliance. Sure that wouldn’t be stable – how could it be, when these parties are defined by not being each other? – but it would change the game forever. And it would be so funny.

I think there is a real possibility now of government without FG or FF, and I urge you to vote that way.

But even that isn’t my dream outcome. What I’d really like to see is a government entirely composed of non-party candidates. Ideally, of people who’ve never even stood for election before.

Political experience is what got us where we are now.

Fast Forward

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I fell in love, I lost my memory, and I represented my country as a cartoonist at the European Parliament. Had quite a nice Christmas too. I really don’t know how I’ll find time to tell all these stories.

For the meantime, here’s a selection of cartoons I assembled for the Cartooning for Human Rights event:

http://doubt.it

Pope Catholic Shock

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It’s weird how the Pope was fêted in the US almost as a left-wing radical, just because he doesn’t wholly approve of unbridled greed. People, he’s the Pope. He’s head of the vast thing, that does all the things.

I’m lost for words here. The one I did for the current Phoenix probably says it all.

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Picture Puzzle

Inequality-V-Debt
Sources: Left Irish Left Review, Right IMF

OK it’s way past my bedtime but I couldn’t resist showing you this. I was researching something when I was struck by the similarity between these two diagrams. On the left we have income inequality – roughly speaking, the difference between the richest and the poorest fifth of each society. On the right we have the amount of debt that countries across the EU have gotten into in the last few years.

Broadly speaking, it’s the most unequal countries that are also the most indebted. How does that happen? The ‘liberalisation’ of many economies in the past decades was ostensibly meant to make them richer. The effect though has been very different. Low-tax countries are having to borrow in order to meet expenditure, particularly when times get tough. Meanwhile their lack of redistribution means that citizens are encouraged to borrow in order to compete socially – sometimes even to meet basic expenses. This private indebtedness tends quickly to become public when lenders collapse.

In short, trickle-down economics is really trickle-away. Though a minority of individuals within them are of course better off, countries that cut back on tax and expenditure end up impoverished over all. People seem to vote for such policies in the optimistic hope that they will somehow get into that ever smaller, ever richer minority. The odds suggest that they should buy lottery tickets instead.

Aftermath

So what was the Vatican’s response to Ireland’s historic vote for marriage equality?

Slightly muted, somewhat bitter, and more than a little enlightening.

The Pope himself said nothing publically, presumably not to appear fallible. It was left to close deputy Cardinal Pietro Parolin to make this odd but revealing pronouncement:

The Irish vote, he declared, was a “defeat for humanity”.

The decision of a majority to accept and cherish a minority? To me, that is the triumph of all that is best about people, humanity at its absolute finest. It seems that when the Catholic Church uses the word “humanity” it means something quite different.

Itself, I suspect.

A 2,000 year old all-male global institution. For sure that’s an organism of a sort, able to preserve and replicate itself successfully. But its goals and its needs, its triumphs and defeats, are not humanity’s. Life, but not as we know it.