According to the mainstream parties of British Politics the main reason for not discussing anything with the BNP publicly (ie. on weekly platitude fest Question Time or the Daily Politics) is that it gives them a higher profile and legitimises them in the eyes of the wider public. The recent decision to review long-standing Labour Policy of no debate with the BNP is being discussed by Labour Party big-wigs in light of Nick Griffin's invitation as a panellist on QT and the BNP's success at the last European Elections.
It seems that since the last time they looked the BNP now has access to many more funds and an elevated media profile. They are now wondering whether or not they should acknowledge this and go face to face with regular James Blunt and bullshitter Nick Griffin MEP and his circus troupe of performing baboons (no offence to baboons).
I'm not going to do one of these posts about how awful it is that the Blackcoats are Haw Hawing in their cornflakes (witty) at the recent news of their election in a vote which meant nothing to anyone in a parliament which means nothing to anyone. I don't like the BNP, neither do you (most likely), let's move on.
It simply astounds me that so many in the mainstream of British Politics refuse to debate with them. While some in the ranks of the moderate even go so far as to say we should ban them. A combination of ignoring the problem until it goes away and banning/not taking into account those who don't agree with you smacks of the 5 year year old with his hands on his ears shouting LA LA LA at the top of his lungs until the problem decides to sort itself out.
Ask a Frenchman/woman to tell you the effects of ignoring a fringe party and he/she will cite the 2002 Presidential election in which National Front came second in the first round. Ask any Italian or German to tell you the effects of banning a fringe party and she/he will cite the terrorism engendered as a result. Suffice to say history should have corrected the silly illusion that we should ignore/ban the party.
Then why do the mainstream do this? What makes them spout inanities which amount to saying if you wish to debate with me you have to agree with me on this, this and this? Yes the BNP are wrong about race, yes they are wrong about Europe and so on and so bloody forth, but in my eyes the Conservatives are wrong on pretty much everything, why don't we ban the Conservative Party? Should you not be confident/secure enough in the strength of liberal democracy and pluralism that you can defend it against such idiocy?
You can only uphold liberal and pluralist democracy if you let it harbour its antagonists, or at least let them speak. Same goes for radical Imams and Revolutionary Marxists. Something Voltaire said about mildly inconveniencing himself for your right to speak and something else about God granting his wish that his enemies be made to look ridiculous spring to mind. These ideas go hand in hand. If you let them speak, it amounts to them giving you the stick to beat them with. That's the beauty of the system these shy democrats/pluralists represent, they just seem to have forgotten that.
Upon the news that the BNP were elected to the European Parliament the Conservative Party announced that it was glad that we don't have a system of Proportional Representation in Westminster. So they justify an unjust and outdated voting system by saying that it stops the BNP being elected to Parliament. It's not as if we would end up with the instability and centrifugal forces of the Weimar Republic, many of the French Republics or Post-War Italy should we finally be given an opportunity to cast a FAIR and CONSEQUENTIAL vote. I'd rather not be talked to like a moron when in fact it's obvious the Tories simply don't want to change a system which advantages them.
But it's not only the Tories being pathetic about this. Labour have gone from bad to worse. Not only have they dropped plans for PR but they recently proposed (to the delight of the BNP) new legislation to prioritise locals in the council flat selection process based on a MYTH propagated by the BNP itself. Also their near silence on Europe has been infuriating and has played right into UKIP's and the BNP's hands.
Another problem in not addressing the problem of the BNP is that it makes it impossible to acknowledge the isolation felt by many disaffected voters in the outskirts of London and the North of England from the political system. Thus their needs are not taken into account and their misconceptions not addressed. Which is certainly not healthy, nor is it fair.
The problem is that if the mainstream continues in its policy of simply ignoring the BNP and using it as a smokescreen for their own incompetence and lack of imaginative and forward looking policy, the BNP can only flourish as the party of change, albeit regressive unchallenged change.
I was re-watching The Dreamers the other night. It is a film, as many of you are probably aware, set during the May 68 riots in France. What started off as localized student protests, spread through the whole country and threatened to topple the Gaullist hegemony. This of course electorally proved to be wrong, yet it is safe to say that despite not being toppled Gaullism certainly was shaken. The film shows symbols such as a tidy middle class girl’s bedroom, a kitchen table, a Delacroix painting, even a toothbrush being appropriated by the idylls of a Revolutionary youth, or at least disentangled from the General’s vision des choses.
Three things sprung to mind upon watching this film when considering the establishment which was being challenged. Firstly France at that period possessed nuclear capabilities. Secondly it was governed by a very conservative figurehead who acquired power in what can only really be called a coup. Thirdly the ideology which underpinned this movement was nationalist, souverainist and sought to redefine France along traditional lines with an emphasis on technological and economic betterment.
When we consider the protest movement it was defined as originating mainly from intellectual and student circles (emanating from the baby boom generation) escalating as time went on to the working classes. Then by its relatively short lifespan and then finally by its lack of structure and coherent leadership. That is to say that despite the various Maoist student organizations and la gauche spontex (as it was rather aptly called) and the trade unions, the fragmentation of ideology and leadership was evident for all to see. It was also defined by its lack of instant results (there was no revolution).
There are incredible similarities which can be drawn with what we saw recently develop in Iran. Obviously I do not have the pretence to assume that I understand the ins and outs of Iranian politics, but I feel I have a fair grasp and the comparison may be flawed in certain aspects (with regards to Iran’s nuclear program, its leadership and of course the rigging), but I feel that it certainly does bear some weight. Many of the descriptions of France's establishment and the protests in 1968 have a striking resemblance to modern day Iran.
Both situations arose from public disapproval at an injustice/abuse of power and they also both represent a generational change in civil society’s approach to the individual and the role of the government's relation to said individual. They both escalated and were brutally repressed. The dust seems to have settled and it seems pretty clear that Ahmadinejad will remain in power, much in the same way that De Gaulle did.
It will be interesting to see the reverberations of this popular upheaval in the years to come. Despite the fact that De Gaulle remained in power for the following 2 years and that his dauphin became President after him, the foundations of the society which he sought to build and transform had been shaken and inescapably altered. Thus can we say that l’esprit de 68 which changed the way many people in France approached their leaders, and in fact themselves, will be present in Iran as l’esprit de 09 (if you will)?
Iran's leaders may have won the physical battle but it certainly lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iranian people (well most of them). It’s not so much about Mousavi not becoming President (he was not that much of a poster child for liberalism anyway), figureheads rarely capture the movement they represent, they merely ride it, it’s about what the protests represent and their reflection upon civil society. The vast underbelly of popular discontent which swelled in the streets of Tehran and other cities across the country will have to be dealt with. Considering the overwhelming youth of the movement and the loss of legitimacy of the Government and the Ayatollah, tear gas and snipers on rooftops will not quell such a societal demographic shift in attitudes and convictions. The appropriation of symbols such as the Azadi Square and the idea of Martyrdom with the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan further shows the potency of this movement.
Progressive change does not come quickly nor easily. That platitude is evident enough. But Governments faced with strong civil societies can only survive upon legitimacy whether by force of their argument or the force of their weapons. It remains to be seen whether the latter was enough, and I remain hopeful that, as in France, it was not.
Barack Obama on a recent television interview was said to be choked up and evidently angry (wagging finger and solemn air noted) at a decision, or at least a possibility, that the insurer AIG was going to give out big juicy bonuses to its gluttonous fat cats who lost all our money and are seeking to steal our tax money (*duly shakes fist at evil system in which he took part*). Anyway more to the point I couldn’t help notice that it was said as part of a joke (he coughed you see) and how it made the audience laugh, and us chuckle and feel warm inside. This level of showmanship, or oratory as it is more neutrally called, is reminiscent of many such greats as Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. We can acknowledge the importance of personality in Politics. Some of us go as far to say inanities like Winston Churchill won us the Second World War, or Barack Obama has cured America of its institutional racism or absolved the US of all its sins (me included, I remember crowing that Gordon Brown was the savior of social-democracy). It can lead to gross errors of judgment or pseudo personality cults whose effects we fall more often then not victim to.
Firstly it seems to me that the fore-front of personality in politics has become more pronounced due to mass media development and the deepening of individualism. The entrenching of Presidentiable in French politics, the smooth managerialism of British and German politics, attest strongly to this. As does the comic but occasionally affable style of George Bush II or the soaring preachy rhetoric of Obama. Personality politics has always been around, these are just modern depictions, but the call of the hand of history, has never seemed so wide in possible repercussions.
A small example of this would be Boris Johnson. Pure persona, you think of Boris (note first name terms, like Tony or Cherie or even Dave) you think mumbling tit, rides a bicycle. At least in the past we had nicknames like the Mac, the Iron Lady or something of the sort, but they were just as bad really. Ultimately they give you a show which is within the narrative of the latest political soap opera, or personality interplay. This is of course a touch overly dramatic and selective, but the trend is undeniable. As we can see that showmans such as Mitterand, Schroeder or Clinton, were simply maintainers of the status quo, delivering little more but the same as the parties on their right. While thundering showmen such as Thatcher, Reagan, De Gaulle, and so on, use their tremendous personalities to project their mostly unsound policy agenda. A perfect example of this was one of the campaign posters of Segolene Royal during the last election which was entitled La France Presidente. Her incompetence was not made apparent until the PS decided to shun it's reasonable candidate DSK for an emotive egomaniac who ended up losing to someone of the same emotional exuberance.
This can be noted as one of the long stream of personality aggrandizement which can only further legitimize personal rule, or certainly centralize power further behind a series of masks. While it’s increased legitimacy will further chip away at the authority of the elected legislative figure, or the less media savvy of the political bunch, until all we're left with is only one democratic organ to take on the executive and a media who more often then not share the same agenda as the man or woman in charge. Robin Cook for example was a perfect candidate for Labour leadership, but most wouldn’t even consider him because he didn’t fit the persona (while it would seem his credentials and his beliefs would have more say in this). Some could argue the same for Gore, DSK, Kinnock, but the fundamental point is that it helps to have a larger than life personality or an ego the size of the tundra. Ultimately can we say that Gore, Kerry, Smith, Bayrou, Kinnock would have been better? I could place a fair wager that they would have been (this is of course only pure speculation).
Not to say that Pol Pot, Stalin or Hitler await us. Yet we can’t overlook the fact that the smooth salesmanship of political power is there solely to convince us when in fact it should be there to serve us. It is the modern equivalent of blue blood or brute force, which coerce us into accepting authority. That we can justify things which are clearly so reckless by saying that history will judge us shows to us that the current constellation of political power within our democratic systems is flawed and that we should be wary of its concentration. And it seems unlikely that Cameron, Obama, Sarkozy or even Zapatero want to change that.
No one needs to be reminded of the sorry state of the PS in France. The loss of the Presidential election last year once again sent the party into the introspective mode which has dogged it since MItterand left office in 1995. What can be done to save a party which is unable to stand it´s ground in front of one of the most muddled and moraly corrupt Governments of the Vth Republique? Not much since it seems that little clear ideological direction has been seen since the Jospin administration, and little leadership since the loss of the Presidentials in 1995. The most striking example of this was the last election, which showed more clearly then ever the constraints placed upon Segolene Royal as she stood for President and the problems with the left in France. The problems which the PS faces are three fold, on the level of the party (both in structure and conjuncture), on the national level, especially in the context of being in opposition to Nicolas Sarkozy and on a ideological level (as the party seems to have fallen to the general marasme of the center left Parties within Europe).
One big issue is leadership, as any party which seeks to lead the country needs a leader, this much is clear. This the PS seems incapable of doing. Even during the Jospin years, he had Martine Aubry and Francois Hollande tugging for creative control like high school students in some newly formed band. The same for Segolene Royal, who had to contend with the ever more entrenched Elephants du PS. The party splinters itself into different factions, forming short lived coalitions with one another, while plotting the downfall of rival coalitions. To become leader you have to put yourself forward to contend with les Fabiusards, les Delanoistes, Les Royalistes (funny coincidence, no?), and so on and so forth with each prominent member of the Party. Each one incapable of imposing him/herself in case he or she gets kicked out of the band as it were. Some say this is due to the void left by Mitterand, since he was leader for such a long time. But for god´s sake that was 14 years ago! It´s a rather cheap excuse to hide the fact that the party has too many bloated egos at the same time, while the old guard seem incapable of accepting fresh blood such as Hamond or Royal (who are either ignored or derided). This is further worsened by the actual structure of the party. For example there is no official opposition leader in Parliament or in the Party. Even more confounding is that the General Secretary for example is not the candidate for the next election. You cannot have two imposing personalities at the head of a Party, it simply does not work. As the last election showed it can even destroy a marriage (Royal/Hollande). The party clearly has too many personalities bobbing around clawing for political influence and stature, while the structure is repellent to any form of functional hierarchy.
THE BAYROU AND SARKO EFFECT
The PS does not offer an credible alternative to the currrent administration, yet it seems even incapable of fronting a credible opposition to Sarkozy. This is in part due to it´s incapacity to find a clear leader and message, but also there are Sarkozy and Bayrou to contend with.
You know the left in France is in trouble when a former member of the ruling party is providing the main opposition to Sarkozy. Though Bayrou and his center party (the MOdem) seem to epitomise more a Gaullist resistance, then a center left one. Not only that but Bayrou hopes to form a coalition with the PS at the next election (only Royal seems to have warmed to that idea). He was even invited, half jokingly half seriously, to form une motion for the next Party Convention in November. He is capable of fronting an opposition to Sarkozy, in light of his imposing presence within his party (though the fact that his party is largely his creation does help), and the vaccum left by the introverted PS.
Sarkozy also has managed to blur ideological lines to such an extent and fire highly symbolic yet minimaly important legislation (to appear at once as the trend setter but also as the reformer) that the PS simply does not know how to react. A good example of this was the creation of the RSA, which is a more effective substitute for the RMI. It would have been a perfect opprtunity to call out in unity and agree with the content, but disagree with the way it was financed (since the middle class will have to shoulder most of the burden, as opposed to the rich who are protected by a fiscal shield). The party would have presented itself as a coherent and cooperable opposition, while disagreeing with Sarkozy´s economic policies. Instead we got nothing. Nor does it help that this is traditional left wing territory, but Sarkozy is an expert at reaching to both sides of the political spectrum. The effect is worsened by the poaching of high flying former members of the left such as Kouchner and Hirsch. While the constant atmosphere of debate within the UMP, and still being able to maintain a clear leadership (as seen with Edvige) can only but weaken external opposition in the public eye.
The PS is incapable of fronting an opposition to Sarkozy, even in the light of some truly contemptible behaviour (Corsica, need i say more) and worrying legislation (Edvige for one). This is not helped by Bayrou, who benefitting from a small and operational party, has managed to provide a revival of the center in France, while spliting the party over the idea of an alliance.
LEFT WITHOUT A COMPASS
Yet this weakness is reflective of the lull in which most of the center left European Parties find themselves. The situation in Germany is very similar. With the SDP incapable of deciding wether to stay firmly on the left or move towards the center (it seems to have decided the latter for the forthcoming elections), while slowly it´s electorate is eroded by Die Linke on it´s left and the CDU from it´s center. The same can be said with the French Socialists. They are uncertain which way to turn. Whether to consolidate themselves with their base (as Aubry and Fabius clearly favour) so as to eat away at the 10-12% who voted for leftist extremists parties such as the LO or the PCF in 2007. Or whether to move to the center to either ally themselves with or engulf the Modem and the center (as Royal and Delanoe clearly favour). This trend is increasingly obvious throughout the whole of Europe. It´s visible in the failing left wing governments of the UK and Spain, and in the failings of recent elections in Italy and Germany, while it is painfully clear in France.
The PS needs to sort out the structure of it´s party. Favouring clear and established opposition: such as a the creation of a formal speaker in the Assembly and combining the posts of General Secretary and Presidential Candidate. This would impose a leader who can succesfully occupy the spectrum and present itself as opposition, while going some way to silence dissention within it´s ranks. I think an alliance with the Modem would be counter productive, since the party can simply move towards the centre and eat away at the Bayrou electorate, instead of relying on the man himself (who cannot be trusted). In very much the same way Sarkozy did with the UDF last year. Not moving towards the center would be stupid and short sighted since, the harder left will always vote for the lesser of two evils au second tour and that will always be the PS over UMP. As for the ideological move there are no easy answers, but drawing on the examples of Blair and Zapatero, I think would be a good start. That, twinned with the ideas put forward for the creation of a participatory democracy (cf Segolene Royal), would put the party at the forefront of innovative politics in a France already tired of (but at the moment resigned to) Sarkozy.
- Why did you not speak up before the actual vote as opposed to after? Considering this matter is something which apparently is dear to your heart and you are Shadow Home Secretary.
- Since you were partly the architect and a keen supporter of 28 days, not to mention the fact that you support the Death Penalty, doesn't this show that you're not really that big on civil liberties?
- Would you accept a seat on David Cameron's shadow cabinet, should you win the by-election, considering (as he has said) he is unlikely to repeal it if he wins the next election?
- Do you want the electorate of your constituency to vote solely on the issue of 42 days, considering most of the public support that particular piece of legislation?
- What possible difference is this going to make, what are you going to accomplish, since the bill already passed in parliament and you face no plausible opposition for your seat (labour has decided not to challenge you)?
- Why did you feel the need to resign considering your party was against the Government's proposals? Doesn't this show that you don't think David Cameron was strong enough in his opposition to 42 days detention?
- Do you have any leadership ambitions, and wasn't this whole thing about trying to further your own political agenda as opposed to defending our liberties?
- Isn't it odd that the Conservative Party is not funding your campaign? Doesn't this show that David Cameron has seen beyond your pretense and is worried that you are trying to steal his job?
I, like Davis, am against 42 days detention, but find his motives questionable and dishonest at best. This kind of blatant publicity stunt over such an important and sensitive issue further weakens the faith that the general public have in politicians , not only that but makes a mockery of the ideals we are all trying to defend by opposing this piece of Government legislation. Though I do thank him for exposing the cracks within the Conservative Party and wish him the best when it comes to damaging his party in the future.
Tony Fabrizio a Republican Strategist for McCain has said that
One strategy for McCain is (...) to make it not about micro-policy but about ideological differences. Given Obama's record, this will be easy.This throws into light some very interesting occurrences which have happened in the past two weeks or so, which are the result of a paradigm shift within the American political landscape. The latter Clinton years, though rife with partisanship, as well as the Bush years were defined with the two main parties easily slipping into the same political territory. That is to say it was defined by, as many have come to call them, the Republicrats. This odd political breed though bitterly partisan are easily seen as sparring on similar territory. The Clinton 08 campaign as well as the Giuliani 08 campaign can be seen in many ways as the last stand of such politics. The failure of the Neo-Conservative movement has thrown this balance off kilter and has incited a Democratic Revival and Ideological emboldening, not seen since the mid 80s or the brief hysteria of RFK. However this time they might take it to the White House. Obama's nomination is historic in itself and his ascension to the White House would have unparalleled consequences socially, politically and economically.
Up against him is the eccentric, if not slightly schizophrenic, candidate McCain. Who has gone from being seen as a liberal voice within the Republican Party, as well as a possible running mate for Kerry in 2004, to a hard-line Republican. He supports the Bush tax cuts, which he once criticized, he has hopped into bed with the Evangelicals , he so loathed and has pretty much abandoned his green credentials which he used to tout. Though his personality change is not the topic of this post, it reflects the ideological polarisation of American Politics, which has been picking up speed in the past year or so. Though his candidacy lacks the momentum of the gargantuan and hugely grassroots movement Obama has assembled around him, his candidacy has been fired up in opposition to it. He intends to present himself as a Republican through and through, with small government, gun-ho and bellicose credentials to boot. When he delivered his speech on the same night as Obama's victory, his soundbite for the evening was "No you can't". Which echoes the clear Conservatism of this campaign.
The Democratic Primaries managed in many ways to incite this debate within American Society. With a woman and a African American leading the contest from early January, it started by in a sense establishing its "liberal" credentials. The populist leanings and bleatings of Clinton in the last months of her campaign, and Obama's soaring speeches which have been compared to those of Kennedy and King, also added to this. The party is now strongly defined by strong liberal leanings. Gone are the days when the Democrats were toeing Republican Party line. Whether Obama likes it or not the party has swung to the left, and in comparison to McCain he will seem like a big Government, pacifist and "progressive" candidate. His candidacy has become the archetypal liberal campaign, as Anne Coulter would say, and for once she's not entirely wrong.
The reason for this seems two fold. Firstly the party has rallied itself around a new and ground breaking candidate, who goes beyond anything the democrats could have hoped for. This is because in style Obama is personable like Bill Clinton, affable like Kennedy and revolutionary like Martin Luther King. He is void of the baggage of the past and is not divisive, unlike his opponent Clinton. And Secondly he also has picked up on a wave of discontent which has been born out of the Iraq war, the loss of disposable income felt by most Americans, and the recent antipathy towards the Republican Agenda after 9/11 (again unlike most leading Democrats, including Hillary Clinton). The dissatisfaction which most Americans now feel gives the Democratic Party an opportunity to be more radical as it were and possess what in 2004 would be considered an "unpatriotic" agenda. One last thing I believe that the drawn out primary season has helped the party to rediscover it's identity and to an extent expose fully the divisions in the party. Therefore it will be easier to understand and to an extent try and pacify the factions within the party. Unlike McCain who seems to have won, without putting up much of a fight, due to the lack of choice within a much more fragmented party. Which explains the sudden shift from McCain to Bush III, so as to preserve the disintegrating coalition of business elites and the religious right, which it can't seem to move beyond.
The debate is raging through American Society as the forces of Conservatism and Liberalism collide headlong, and the contest has galvanised huge swathes of the population. Some states which historically have always been "safe", that is to say defined by a political stripe, are up for grabs. Which again shows how this Primary season has unsettled and rattled the political and stale consensus of the past 25 years or so.
How will this play out? No one knows, since both camps are at about even in every national poll, though it would seem that Obama has the edge. Except for the poll published by FOX news which puts McCain largely ahead, but anyone with half a brain should take anything published by that network with a pinch of salt.
The independents and the lower classes are undecided and the election will clearly be decided on those two demographics. McCain and Obama are even with independents. But McCain is largely ahead with the lower classes, which is something Obama needs to work on, though clearly his agenda would benefit them more. This shows that this disconnect has more to with the colour of his skin and seeming elitism (since Clinton had the edge over McCain when it came to these voters). However should this fail it would be interesting to see if Obama's campaign which has been twinned with a campaign for registering the young and disenfranchised voters (who historically sympathise with the Democrats) would be able to cancel out this working class Republicanism.
Either way this injection of dynamism and energy into a political debate has to an extent helped America smash glass ceilings and the political stalemates of the past 8 years. This very public debate on issues of race, gender and morality, showed the world an element of maturity twinned with a renewed optimism which many felt had eluded America for a very long time . The election trail is going to be fascinating to watch.
Il quitte sa maison,
Se heurte au vent glacial,
ce fut bien la saison,
Tout parait normal,
Une surface de formes et de couleurs,
sans aucune définition,
vide de secondes, minutes et heures,
Il n'a plus la même vision.
Le chemin cadré de verdure,
un ciel pommelé,
plus rien ne parait si sure,
un peu parsemé,
Il suit le chemin,
Un trajet simple et prédéfinit,
portable et sac en main,
dans ses yeux un léger ennui.
Il s'arrête au bord du trottoir,
Un moteur hurle, une voiture course,
il en résulte une collision de rouge et de noir,
Pourquoi? On n'en connaitra jamais la source.
The Irish Vote last week was the only referendum to be held in all of the 27 countries of the EU as to whether or not the Lisbon treaty should be adopted. The fate of one of the most important and innovative texts of the European Union was left in the hands of a nation of around 6 million people (representative of just around 1% of the EU population), and the treaty was rejected by 53.4% to 46.6%. Mostly because voters were uncertain about what the treaty actually meant and what it stood for. Declan Ganley head of minority party Libertas was heard on Saturday heralding the defeat of the treaty as a slap in the face of much reviled Eurocrats. He went on to say "This is democracy in action... and Europe needs to listen to the voice of the people". This is reflective of mainly three things: the ignorance of the population at large as to the objectives of the European Union and the Lisbon treaty, the distorted and infuriating diatribes of the right wing/nationalist forces as well as the dangerously passé and archaic mechanisms of European Politics.
It's important to remember that the actual vote in Ireland was meant to be an easy thing, most were more worried about the Treaty not being passed in the UK's upper House, or even in the Spanish Congress. But no one was really worried about the Irish referendum until a few bothersome polls showed the no camp gaining ground about a week or so ago. And then again there only were faint worried whispers within the international press and the hallways of the European Parliament two days before the actual vote.
So should we be worried that a State like Ireland, which has established fairly strong European credentials, has rejected the treaty? I don't think so, because firstly the turnout was very low indeed with only 53.1% turning up at the polls and secondly most voted "no" because they did not understand the actual text and thought it might affect issues such as abortion. That in itself is not an anti-Europe vote, but more a pathetic squeal of nationalism galvanising a backdrop of apathy and uncertainty.
How could such voters be so ill informed? After all there is a wealth of articles and numbingly simple "the Lisbon Treaty explained" 10 point summaries available so easily on the internet and in the media. It seems so mind bogglingly odd that no one knows what it's about. In fact it seems to me that most hide behind the length the Treaty to mask their laziness and ignorance, but that's my angry defeated opinion. A more pondered approach however would show that, in fact, as well as being slightly lazy, the population were mostly fed these Soviet/Evil Empire/EU Comparisons ad nauseam (apparently Barosso is the new Stalin)by a frighteningly biased media, who happily dispense of fact for opinion, while the more liberal press and the prominent proponents of the treaty kept quiet, for some odd reason or other (most probably arrogance). The information out there was unlikely to swing it in favour of the the "Yes" vote.
It's not so much the Irish "No" which makes a Europhile's blood boil, but the snide look of victory on the faces of the "no" camp, which make for a sickening spectacle. Declan Ganley (Libertas) was not the only smug half wit celebrating in Dublin on Friday, but his speech was particularly poignant. In that he said this was a victory for democracy and the people of Ireland. He went on to say that he wanted a collective of nations, not some Federal State administered by a number of Belgians and Germans, using some overly convoluted and undemocratic text to undermine national sovereignty and democracy (see summaries are not that hard).
What he seems completely incapable of realising is that should the treaty have been passed, largely undemocratic areas of the actual European Union would have been sorted out. With for example the creation of a more visible and accountable figurehead, a parliament with greater jurisdiction, greater powers to European Courts, not to mention a more prominent role on the world stage (something which Ireland could only dream of), and so on. So by opposing such measures, he is leaving the EU in flux more then anything, still undemocratic and with no significant progress made.
Another thing he said was that the text was too long. But I guess that would be normal because a man of such simplistic reasoning simply cannot even begin to process the difficulties and the vast tasks/undertakings which the EU has to deal with. Hence the need for a developed and pluralistic bureaucracy to cope with such demands. While at the same time it has to deal with being tugged at on all sides, by these pathetic nationalisms, which in fact create more opt outs and exceptions, clauses and fine detail. People overlook the fact that that in itself MAKES THE TREATY MUCH LONGER AND MORE DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. One of the main reasons it has become so complicated is because morons like the head of Libertas make it so.
One last argument is this idea that somehow countries have not benefited from European integration. In all of the three pillars of the EU, the Union helped innovate, create and rationalise many areas in which European countries (especially Ireland which has benefited much more then most) were lagging behind and are now able to compete on the world stage. Without the stability and economic prosperity which the European Union has given us, the values of Democracy and Freedom which so many within the "No" camp claim to be defending would simply not exist. Though of course it has not been perfect and the Union has not solved all national problems, it is undeniable that it has been a huge and indispensable asset to us all and still has a lot to offer.
However it is easy to sit back and blame ignorance and others for the recent failings of the EU. Blame lies strongly with the Europhiles and the way European Politics is conducted. Brown and Cowen should have stood up and explained the treaty in detail and not avoided all questions. When they don't, it gives the impression that the transparency of the European Union is very limited and is likely to continue to be, once more power seeps into the European Parliament and Council. Thanks to them and the apparent rejection of democracy (though last time I checked national congress was elected, but hey...)by not having referendums, Brussels has never seemed more detached from the streets of Belfast, Dresden and The Hague, and never has it seemed so self serving. No wonder they rejected it. I'm not protesting at the lack of referendums (I don't believe in them), but a lack of discourse is dishonest and disheartening, not to mention defeatist. It's like saying "I know what's best for you and for us, but I'm not going to tell you because you won't understand". This kind of patronising behaviour by the Governing Class shows a dangerous lack of belief in the principles of democracy and overlooks the good which can come from of an informed and intelligible public debate.
Should we have more pro-active European MEPs and supporters on the forefront of politics today this problem would not have presented itself. The EU needs to be more honest and open, it needs to challenge and defend as opposed to hide and litigate, it needs to assuage fears, not encourage them. The Lisbon Treaty will pass, as did it's predecessors even when they were rejected a first time, but that does not mean that the EU can continue the way it is. Otherwise I fear the worst, there is nothing more scary then a nationalist backlash.
He questioned it, pondered it, savoured it almost, his taste buds tingling, the hairs on the back of his neck, standing. He felt like a cliché, a sell-out for such pretentious musings, but revelled in their psycho-somatic manifestations, and the prism it placed on the world around him.The simplification before him levelled his heart, and lightened his mind like some drug bought off a street corner.The bitter sweet after-taste due to his awareness of it's effect. It's reductionist nature bought at once a sense of diving close enough into this basic human condition while not being burnt by the inevitable nihilism which underlies all such undertakings. His escape from Crete, a womb of sorts, was not to be marred any longer by the sun because he knew the dangers.
He knew them too well as a sadness crept in and the lines of cuts on his arms glistened in the crescent moon, reminding him of past reveries and the brutal realisation process that ensued. So all that he was left with was a blank page, upon which all was a mere construct,a series of lies and delusions. Such a burn had sent him in the past hurtling down to the sea, towards ignorance and drowning, towards that all too real suffocation.
No clever words, nor pretty turns of phrase could detract from it, or form an alternative to this gaping truth. No saintly religion or colourful philosophy could fully block out this black sun and it's distressing rays. One had simply to distract oneself, look at the fish below.
One always feels the sun reddening one's skin, scorching it, bubbling it (reason and incredulity dictated that he never really had a choice in that respect). His life would have to play out this way, unable to "combler le vide", living on a knife's edge as it were. Teetering on the fine line between meaning and nothingness, while making sure the wax of his wings did not melt, though having to put up with searing heat and more often then not burning flesh.
Thanks to the wonderful browse function on this blogsite I was able to find a number of Christian bloggers. As I continued browsing over their numerous posts exalting God for his purported greatness and Jesus for dying for us and yadiyada, I couldn't help feeling slightly sickened by this complete delirium which most seem to get into when they join these new age Christian cults. Photos of people who smile dreamily and whose eyes have that slight glaze over them as if they were on crack, stare back at you, on a backdrop of misty eyed adulation and prose for their spiritual leader and master. I have many a time tried to challenge them on their beliefs and the fundamental flaws in their ideology, yet have failed each time since I was either talking to morons or people who refused to see the truth for fear that their whole world would crumble and they might actually have to face up to a few cold realities.
I'm not an Atheist, since I subscribe to no belief, nor do I have the arrogance to know whether or not a God exists, because it's clearly obvious that we don't know and we should not assume he/she/it does. It's not a case of God not existing, it's more one of me making an educated assertion in assuming that he doesn't unless I'm proven wrong, there is a fundamental difference between the two, which I don't feel I have to explain, unless you want me to start talking about Unicorns and how we can't disprove their existence either.
When you confront them about their beliefs, they say they have proof in that they have felt God, and "spoken" to him. When I hear this I desperately try and suppress laughter as I can't think of anything more self involved and deluded then someone saying that God who created this whole vast universe would contact them and give them relationship advise or comfort them over their recent woes, by sending them a message in their cornflakes.
If you look at the world through a prism, you can see a harmony within everything as everything fits together, it's the same with Marxism, Socialism or any other ideology, religion reduces the world to suits it's ends.
It reminds me of the grossly overrated film the Dreamers, when a young man is talking to an old poet, yet the young man is not listening to the rather dull bleatings of the poet, as he is playing with a tin lighter. Once the Poet realises that the boy is not listening he asks him why he is playing with this lighter, the boy responds that the lighter fits in many places, the side fits on the pattern in the table cloth, the top fits on some pattern on the floor, fitting in various other places such as the poet's nose and ears, and so on and so forth... then the boy looks up and says "If you look closely enough, at the shapes which surround us and the way everything seems to fit together, it's almost as if there is some cosmic harmony". Well he seems to overlook the unfortunate fact that if you look at the world through one object (in this case a tin lighter) you are bound to find some kind of Cosmic binding force.
So should someone receive a "sign" from God, it is often the case that they are in fact overlooking the most likely cause of this supposed sign which is the random nature of life. If you choose to interpret events in the light of God then of course things fall into place, as ideology is reductionist, which means it's more a case of "believing is seeing", as opposed to "seeing is believing", which makes religion sound like some horror film about Ghosts in an Orphanage. You can project meaning onto anything, trust me I know I study politics.
As for feeling god and hearing him, well I suggest padded rooms and medication, because that's not God that's schizophrenia. But more seriously we should not overlook the psychosomatic effects of our mindset which can make us do and feel a huge number of things. I remember one night, I went on an evening stroll with a friend through the Streets of London, we were deep in conversation about spirits and ghosts, stories and dreams, good and evil, we were chasing the shadows of the night looking for excitement and inspiration. When we neared Hyde Park, I was persuaded that I could see shadows floating towards us, my friend saw them too, and we ran for our lives. We didn't see Ghosts, or malevolent spirits we saw what we wanted to see, projecting our mindset and our needs onto the outside world, seeing what we wanted to see.
The thing which strikes me most however is the odd link with the Bible. How is something which in the light of modern day science and technology has to be taken with a ton of salt, Gospel truth? Now don't get me wrong, the Bible is an important moral text, but it is clearly nothing more. Since Adam and Eve is largely disproved doesn't this show that the Bible is wrong, and why can't these people apprehend that? Some talk about the predictions of the creation of Israel being mentioned in the book, hence it is Gospel Truth, PRAISE THE LORD FOR THIS IS TRULY THE WORD OF GOD! But hang on, does that mean that Nostradamus was God? or the messenger of God? I mean he did get a few things right, no? Plus he does have a great big beard. Also bear in mind where do the Dinosaurs fit in all this?
My main point is, if you believe in intelligent design, you cannot accept the Bible as Gospel truth but only as a moralistic text. If however you do believe in the Bible then clearly you don't come from a large enough Gene Pool or you're an idiot. If you look at it in the light of the big bang, and presume God was the one who created it, I don't see the link between the physics of the Big Bang/Universe, and the assumption that God, not only created this big bang, but is also the one mentioned in the Bible. As if you do accept modern science (which anyone with half a brain should) then you are clearly making two leaps of Faith, one that God exists and two that the one in the Bible is the one true god (even though the Bible is wrong in many areas).
I will save further musings for another post. But I have to say one more thing which really grates me with these people is they think you are going to hell, for things such as homosexuality, or sex before marriage, or even anger and hatred, or for not fellating their Leader our Saviour Jesus Christ, which coming from a bunch of people who have such flawed reasoning, adds a rather unfortunate morose tinge to their rather funny and innocent freak show. This may make me seem intolerant, but I only am in the face of intolerance and ignorance.
J’ai poignardé ta paume,
Un prix élevé pour m’avoir montré
La douceur de tes mains et donc ton âme,
Comme ton sang, tes larmes n’arrêtent pas de couler,
Eros est tout à fait bidon,
L’abîme des faibles et des connards,
Une cacophonie de gouts et de sons,
Pour empêcher un supposé destin vide, gris et cafard.
Ne te perd pas dans cette chaleur d’or,
Il y a une dissonance avec notre réel intérêt,
Ne te jettes pas dans mes bras et cache ton corps,
Mais je m’en rassure et je vous préviens ca ne durera pas l’été.
Pour qu’on l’annonce a tout les humains
De Grands Statuts et d’ovations,
Le peuple hurle à la perte de la chaleur entre ses reins,
À la fraicheur de sa copulation.
Je vois les ruelles peuplées de pauvres
Affamés, drogués, ensorcelés,
Des Cœurs couverts de merde et de morve
Et vous vous oubliez ces damnées !
Les portes s’ouvriront et bientôt d’un marais rougeâtre,
Pas d’une politique sinistre, gauche et ternie,
Mais d’une faim et d’une soif si pleinement âpres,
La Schizophrénie des rues sera établit.