Tuesday 12 December 2017

John-Paul McCarthy: Presidential victory for socialism masks isolation of the serious left

Joe Higgins's populist invective reveals the plight of contemporary Irish socialism, writes John-Paul McCarthy

My week was dominated by two men named Higgins, one of whom is President, and the other a hard charging backbencher.

President Higgins's media adviser, Mr Wally Young, of Young Communications, wrote to convey the President's irritation with me for having described him in an earlier column as an atheist and a dialectical materialist. Not true, Mr Young explained, and asked for a correction which I gladly give here. I await the President's latest set of essays from Liberties Press as I write, and must postpone further inquiry into the precise nature of his socialist values for now.

How did I get him wrong though? By overdosing on Edmund Wilson's great book on the socialist tradition, To the Finland Station, during the presidential election? By shunning Dr Johnson's humility in characterisation, a quality shown when he explained a blunder in his dictionary by saying, "Ignorance, sir, ignorance"? If there are other ways of gracefully surrendering former views to a better considered position, I invoke them all today.

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