Sunday 22 January 2017

If the Left is right, why is it in this plight?

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

HAVING NONE OF IT: Richard Boyd Barrett TD on RTE’s ‘Late Debate’
HAVING NONE OF IT: Richard Boyd Barrett TD on RTE’s ‘Late Debate’

Is the Irish Left still pretending that Greece has the answer? Are we still supposed to pretend to take them seriously when they do?

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As the latest crisis talks continued, Wednesday's Late Debate on RTE Radio 1 spoke to Suzanne Lynch of the Irish Times, who pointed out that resistance to cutting the Greeks more slack was coming, not only from arch villains Germany, but from Eastern European countries "who see themselves as poorer than Greece and who have already contributed to the bailout".

Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit, typically, was having none of it, insisting that the left-wing Syriza government in Athens, where economic growth has collapsed, was actually running a budget surplus these days and would be well able to pay its own way if it didn't have to meet crippling debt repayments. We'd all be in the money if we didn't have debts, comrade. But we do.

What's Left? on BBC Radio 4 discussed the question: "Why is the Labour Party not very good at persuading people to put it into government?"

Guests came up with various theories to explain the party's recent defeat at the UK polls; but the really bad news was best summed up by one of its own supporters: "For a progressive party, Labour's never been very good at getting on the right side of the zeitgeist."

By complete contrast, Newstalk's science slot Futureproof presented a one-off special documentary on the grim history of the frontal lobotomy, a treatment which was presented in its day as a miracle cure for depression, but which quickly took medicine into the realm of surgical nightmare.

It was an interesting programme, but felt a little too pleased with itself for tackling what it clearly felt was a dangerous taboo topic, even warning off listeners who might be alarmed by the squeamish details. History and science shows should need no apology. Radio 4's own science series, Discovery, aired what was, in its own way, an equally ghastly documentary last week on the origins of war.

Presenter Geoff Watts asked whether humans had an "innate predisposition" for bloodshed, looking first at the often similarly aggressive pack behaviour of our ape cousins, and then, more intriguingly, at mankind's prehistoric ancestors.

He found little evidence of warfare amongst hunter-gatherers. Mass killings only began to occur around 7,000 years ago, as changes in farming brought people into conflict with one another over land.

In other words, it's all about property. Maybe those socialists are right, after all.

Finally, on RTE's Mooney Goes Wild, Eric Dempsey set out in search of a secret badger community in Dublin, where large numbers of these supposedly solitary animals were sharing a home. "How do you prevent, say, cross breeding?" he asked the man from the Irish Wildlife Trust.

The diplomatic reply was that the complicated relationships in the average badger sett "would put most soap-opera writers to shame".

We get the picture.

Sunday Independent

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