Thursday, May 31, 2007

John Waters as Rip Van Winkle

Either the people or the media should resign, John Waters, who makes a handy living from his weekly column in the Irish Times, wrote last Monday.

It's not clear if Waters himself considered resigning but like most in the money economy, he may need to fumble in a greasy till and take the shilling, however tainted it may be to him.

Waters wrote: The easier solution is for the media, with the exception of Eoghan Harris and myself, to stand down en masse, it having been established that, once again, ideological agendas, wishful thinking and spite have prevented them doing their jobs. If there is a better reason for resigning, I cannot think of it.

Once again it has been made clear that the Irish media are covering a different country, a country of some leftist or pseudo-ethical ideal which the Irish people stubbornly decline to give birth to.

To understand what was going to happen in this election you had only to stand back and ask: is the Opposition convincing enough to remove a Government which has presided over the most prosperous period in Irish history and seemed not to have blown it?

You had merely to understand how people felt about where we stood, as opposed to what they claimed to think or what they ought to be thinking.

It may well take ten years when the construction sector returns to a level similar to other advanced countries and the foreign firm dominant export sector shows that it has overcome an uncompetitive induced decline, to really test Waters' caveat: and seemed not to have blown it.

We will then know whether it has mattered that no significant reforms have been put in place to prepare for less comfortable economic times.

Remember the factoid - 92% of Irish exports were made by foreign owned firms in 2006.

It's also well to remember when the vast growth in China and India is promoted as an excellent opportunity, most of our exports there, are not by Irish firms and marketing decisions on what is exported there, are not made in Ireland.

Waters concluded his column: For decades, Irish newspapers, including this one, have engaged in stern lecturing of the Irish people on account of their primitive cultures and lack of moral fibre, and the Irish people have repeatedly given them the two fingers.

Now, perhaps, the media might condescend to look at what the Irish people are saying about themselves, and what this means. They might also reflect on the notion that, without roots in society, no value system has any value.

Politics is what is, not what journalists want.

Expecting to dance to the tune Arise and follow Charlie, John Waters as Rip Van Winkle, wakes up to an Ireland where divorce is legalised, homosexuality decriminalised and the cap is no longer doffed to the high and mighty in Church and State. God forbid, the media at last even dares cast a cold eye on the machinations of politicians.

In a seminar titled Society? Church? It's a question of Education, Waters said: And this, it seems to me, is at the core of the problem that we face now in this society. That we have created this idea in Irish society, that because we’re on the run, as I was at the age of twenty, twenty one, from the alleged or believed assertive authoritarianism of the Catholic Church, that we could run for miles and be free, without consequences.

And that somehow it didn’t matter that we could create a society without the core represented by Catholicism up to that point and that it wouldn’t be missed, that somehow, organically in the society, there would come a new flowering of belief and that people would either believe in the Buddha or believe in Allah or whatever and that the rest of us would simply sit around tolerating them And it seems to me, now, that this a completely unsustainable idea.

It was exactly the attitude of the cure being worse than the disease, that has destroyed the moral authority of the Catholic Church for some Irish people in recent decades.

The old world of spurious certainty, was to shield the hypocrisies in what was a republic of fear for anyone who did not kowtow to the status quo. Some people lived happy lives but it was woe betide for anyone else.

Waters' comment - Irish people have repeatedly given them the two fingers - reeks of arrogance and is simply wrong.

The people he excludes may well be in a minority but they are still Irish people.

It is minorities that usually sow the seeds of change that is often eventually embraced by its once fiercest critics.

Change inevitably brings with it some negative factors but the alternative cannot be a committee of do-gooders who would try to impose a social order.

Life today in Ireland is a better place than the organised hypocrisy of the past and despite the hand-wringing of people like John Waters, a pertinent fact that is worth considering is that while for example sexual mores have changed, the biggest difference between today and the past is not the extent of sex but that modern sex is mostly consensual.

At the seminar referred to above, Waters said: We have a society now in which suicide levels are among the highest in the world - again the lack of meaning - but how deep does this meaning go?

Does he really, really know what our suicide levels were, back in the good old days of authority and fear?