The Dame Street Protest, a few thoughts.

Anyone who reads my blog will know I’m a bit of a weirdo. Politically I’m probably even more weird than in other aspects of my life. I would tend to describe myself as a conservative-liberal. What do I mean by that? Well we could start with describing it as wanting people to be free to put each other in consensual bondage without the state poking its nose in, whips optional. But also wishing common sense, not political rhetoric to rule the day. But here’s a few actual examples of my political weirdness.

Outside of situations which can not be legislated for with a universal ruling, all rights should be universal, not special rights. So there shouldn’t need to be special gay marriage law, that should be universal marriage law for everyone regardless of gender or orientation. However if you’re transsexual, you need a specific law in place to allow for legal recognition of your true gender, that’s an essential specific law, because it speaks to a situation which affects a small minority in a unique situation.

I think there should be abortion in Ireland. But I also don’t think it should be possible to use abortion simply as birth control.

I believe the Constitution is the heart of the Republic. But I also believe that as it stands it is a broken document. One which  is no longer fit for purpose, and so needs to be re-drafted, but not by vested interests, rather it should be rewritten by a national committee which does not include any serving or formerly serving politicians.

I believe there should be a 1 year period of military service in something akin to the Territorial Army in the United Kingdom. But that there should also be a conscientious objectors clause, which can allow anyone who truly believes such service to be morally abhorrent to avoid doing so.

Like I said I’m a weirdo. And many of my beliefs, where good citizenship are concerned at least, are probably rather self-contradictory. But sometimes both my liberal and conservative switches get flipped at the same time, in the same direction. Usually by a watershed, or potential watershed, event. So let’s talk about the Dame Street protesters.

These men and women are mostly Irish citizens who, along with protestors around the globe, have chosen to emulate their fellow protestors in Wall Street. They are exercising their right to peaceful protest, in order to voice their objections to the way in which the Irish State is treating its own citizens at the behest of foreign powers. But unfortunately their actual message isn’t nearly as clear as that.

I doubt that there is any need to rehash everything that has happened in Ireland over the last 12 months. But I think everyone has to admit it’s been a hell of a ride. We went from boom to bust, had a government ousted, had our country in some ways conquered without a single bullet being fired, and as a nation we took it all on the chin. Bread now in the hopes of jam to go with that bread later. I said there was no need to rehash, not that I wasn’t going to.

The protestors have reason to be angry, we all do. Our standard of living has been slashed, not for our sakes, but for the sake of apparently hopelessly inept business people spread across Europe, and perhaps even further afield. Worse still we can’t kid ourselves, we will not know the true depth or scale of what’s happened and what is still happening right now, for a very long time. Perhaps even a generation. It may take that long after the dust settles for the academics to translate the mechanics of this depression into something the average man on the street can understand.  Of course, not knowing the true scale of this disaster, is yet another reason for us all to be angry.

Fine but what both the Wall Street and Dame Street protestors seem to have forgotten is that it’s not enough to be angry. You also have to have a coherent message for people to hear. Have an established leadership, including public relations, negotiators, even ewwwww…solicitors ready to deal with changes in circumstances, either positive or negative. Hell even just having everyone chanting from the same hymn book would help project an image of solidarity, rather than semi-sentient “me too”-isms.  Put another way…

“What do we want? A fair deal. When do we want it? Now!”

Is a hell of a lot more effective than…

“What do we want? *reads long, looooong laundry list of sometimes contradictory demands* When do we want it? Uhhhh….

Unfortunately for those demonstrating around the world right now, they’re sounding far more like the latter, than the former.

I agree with a lot of their sentiments. I want there to be change. My liberal side wants there to be better services for the needy. I want there to be a fair wage for a fair days work. I want there to be a damned days work for that matter. I don’t want truly insane amounts of money being torn from the national, and local, budgets only for it to be turned over to foreign powers, and indigenous businessmen, who are just as culpable for what is happening to us all as a global economy. I want us to have government by people who have not lost all connection to what real life is like. I want the Humphreys not to have a guaranteed job for life ruling us all from the shadows. But instead have them openly, and fairly compete everyday of their professional career for those same careers, and not just with one another but with outsiders also.

My conservative side wants tighter oversight on all public spending. Means test all non-contributory social welfare. Bring in military service, it’s insane to have a population of over 4 million, the vast majority of whom are virtually incapable of defending their own nation if the need arises. Keep controlling interests in all the semi-states, and force the national will on them. Crack down on unionism in Ireland. What started as a way for common workers to safely air grievances with their employers have become a shadow government. One which answers only to itself. One nation, one government, elected by the people, not self-selected. And not one which as we now all know is perfectly capable of holding the entire state to ransom, on a whim.

The protestors here and over there want what we’ll have to call a “National Dream“. A good life for themselves and their children. But I don’t think for a second that a few tents, or even a lot of tents here, or in New York, are going to change the course we’ve all been forced to sail. All they can do is voice their dissatisfaction. Make it clear what parts of their plans we approve of and what we don’t. Then all we can really do is wait to see if there’s anyone who can bring us back to something approaching prosperity. Perhaps there are a handful of young leaders out there waiting for their turn who will do the job the way it should be done. Who can stabilise the world economy, through new ways of thinking, of doing business, instead of slamming us all violently on to the rocks until something gives.

I hope that the conservative, and liberal viewpoints can find a middle ground where real equitable change can be achieved.  Rather than both sides becoming more and more polarized. Rather than politics again becoming about us and them. After all the last time that happened in the 1930’s, it didn’t end well very well for Europe, or the rest of the world for that matter. Depressions are dangerous, history shows us that, and let’s be honest here, that’s what we’re living through.

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