Before the Greek soccer team hitchhiked home, did they visit Auschwitz? There isn't a plaque there to commemorate one of the most fatuous yet nonetheless pertinent political observations there, but there should be. I refer to Mary Hanafin's remark that unless we got a united Europe, we'd have another Auschwitz.
Never mind her historical ignorance (for Auschwitz actually was the creation of a united socialist Europe). Her words actually typify the mindset of the Moral Secretariat, the left-liberal cultural forces that govern European policy-making today.
You'll find the Moral Secretariat embedded in the EU Parliament, most university campuses, television stations and newspapers. Generally, they maintain that all progress is good, and like to threaten us with Auschwitz whenever they don't get their way. They are also completely silent and unremorseful whenever they're wrong. Meanwhile, the Cassandras who have doubted the virtues of "progress" are almost always ignored, even when their forecasts have been proved right. After all, the 20th Century gave us the progress that was socialism: and 70 years ago this summer two rival varieties of the species, National and Soviet, were fighting it out on the wheatfields of the Ukraine.
Though Soviet Socialism killed many more people than National Socialism, the Moral Secretariat still tend to look less reprovingly on its sins. No doubt this is why a couple of years ago President McAleese held a reception for survivors of the International Brigade from the Spanish Civil War, including KGB agent Jack Jones, and unrepentant Stalinist Mick O Riordain.
But of course, the survivors of the Blue Shirts, who also fought, though on the other side and at their bishops' rather than Stalin's bidding, were not so honoured.
The Moral Secretariat are sure they're always right -- as for example, with gay rights. Another right -- the Christian right -- in the US warned that legalising homosexual acts would cause a VD epidemic, and were -- this word for the fourth time -- right. Though actually, the outcome was far worse than anyone predicted, as AIDS caused a quarter of a million deaths. No, of course you don't like the Christian right. Nor do I. But ask yourself this: was the Christian right right? You can be sure about this: had the teaching of the Catholic Church directly caused a comparable human catastrophe, we'd have heard all about it, and from whom? The Moral Secretariat, of course.
And yes, like you, I'm all in favour of personal sexual freedom: but we are human beings, with human frailties, including epidemiological ones: yet frailty is what the collective optimism of the Moral Secretariat invariably ignores. And this collective optimism is the difference between what the Moral Secretariat like to call the left and (usually with a sneer) the right. Typically, collectivist optimism likes huge schemes, which, to be even theoretically possible, must be composed of new humans. Such a new human was to be the building block of the euro, so enabling this miracle currency to defy the laws of finance and of man. The consequence is spelt G-R-E-E-C-E.
Yet remarkably, this collectivist debacle has resulted in neither recrimination nor humility, for the Moral Secretariat are strangers to doubt or self-analysis. Whenever earlier sceptics questioned the European project, the Moral Secretariat told electorates that they would have to keep on voting until they said Yes, and then all would be well. So we finally said Yes, and look what we got. I spell it again. G-R-E-E-C-E.
Undaunted, the Moral Secretariat continue to peddle their universal vision, for they believe their rules apply everywhere. With a quite Hanafinian fatuity, they called the uproar in the Arab world "Spring". The outcome has been utterly dystopian, with Islamism triumphant from Casablanca to Aden.
Yet 70 years ago, as the two socialisms were slaughtering the hapless citizens of the Ukraine, over in what was still a pre-modern Arab world, Alexandria was largely Christian, and Jews were the largest single ethnic group in Baghdad. Having undergone the joys of "socialism" and "progress", both cities are now of course overwhelmingly Muslim, with the Jews dead or expelled, and the Christians well on their way. But which, bizarrely, do the Moral Secretariat prefer -- Israel, with a large Arab minority possessing full democratic rights, or the modern Arab world where non-Muslims face extinction? Mad, isn't it?
No matter. The Moral Secretariat never regret and they never learn. Surveying the cemetery-filled wasteland of their past mistakes, they still think they know best. Sceptics are to be marginalised by being called "reactionary" or "right-wing".
The hero of the Irish Moral Secretariat is probably President Michael D Higgins, who recently sang the praises of the founders of the LSE, the Webbs and George Bernard Shaw, no doubt unaware that these very people had defended Stalin during the holocaust of the purges.
But imagine the indignation of the Moral Secretariat over a politician, even inadvertently, praising defenders of Hitler and the Third Reich. For only the Moral Secretariat are confident about the ethical differences between the two competing kinds of socialism, with their competing secret police and competing kinds of death-camp.
The Moral Secretariat always know: for being on the left, they are always right.