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The 'post-democratic' choice: shun political office or be a stooge of the puppet masters


Taoiseach Enda Kenny is simply a messenger boy for the EU establishment and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is simply a messenger boy for the EU establishment and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is simply a messenger boy for the EU establishment and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Judging by his instant reaction to the water protests last Saturday, the Taoiseach is sorely testy on account of us not being on our bended knees in gratitude to him and his party for saving us from perdition.

Forgetting himself in his exasperation, he reverted to the role of peevish headmaster, offering his troublesome pupils a choice between the leather and the cane. Maths master Michael Noonan played the nice punishment dean: the kids were throwing a tantrum and would soon settle down.

Their chagrin is understandable. There they were, basking in the approval of Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schauble, et al, when the people had the brass neck to disgrace them by declaring: "No more!"

Just four years ago, these teacherly gentlemen were describing the terms of the bailout as "a downright obscenity" and threatening to incinerate bondholders once in government. But even before the 2011 election posters were taken down, the Coalition had dropped all pretence of representing the Irish electorate, becoming willing messenger boys for the EU establishment and the German chancellor.

This is the price of taking what is nowadays called "power". In truth, no power is available. The "leader" of the Irish Government is now a mouthpiece for hidden forces seeking to transform the landscape of the free world into shapes and colours of their own desiring.

It's called "post-democracy" - the condition of politics in a globalised, finance-driven world. A "post-democratic" society is one which retains the democratic institutions but merely as the husks of themselves. Post-democratic symptoms include: the disappearance of the social solidarity once exhibited by the manual working class; growing public cynicism and political agnosticism; party political systems offering scant ideological range: and a blurring of the line between state and private sector.

In the early 1990s, Francis Fukuyama published 'The End of History and the Last Man', which interpreted the fall of communism as signalling that the left/right divide in global politics had ended, leaving free market capitalism as the sole and final form of human government. Mr Fukuyama was right, but for confused reasons. In the 1990s, with the Russian bear in hibernation, a soft leftism spread across the 'victorious' West, becoming the ideology-of-choice for the amnesiac children of '68.

A decade ago, Colin Crouch wrote his book 'Post-Democracy' in an attempt to explore the conundrum of why, although most European countries were now run by 'centre-left' parties, this brought no improvement to the lives of working people. Under the "post-democratic" model, he wrote, "while elections certainly exist and can change government, public debate is a tightly-controlled spectacle, managed by rival teams of professional experts in the techniques of persuasion, and considering a small range of issues selected by those teams.

"The mass of citizens plays a passive, quiescent, even apathetic part, responding only to the signals given them. Behind this spectacle of the electoral game, politics is really shaped in private between elected governments and elites that overwhelmingly represent business interests."

What is called austerity has highlighted the undemocratic drift of things, being necessitated in the first place by the iniquity of the elites, the consequence of which the people are required to rectify under threat of extreme sanctions.

A politician like Enda Kenny - with the image and reputation of a conservative parish-pump gladhander - offers the supranational, elitist forces an ideal instrument for their dirty work. Still, Enda was right, in a way, when he said on Saturday evening that the choice at the next election would be between a party that "sorted out the economy" or a party that had "no idea" how to generate revenue to pay for public services. This is another way of defining the post-democratic landscape, which becomes divided between those who are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe run in office, and those who are publicly motivated or attracted by the glamour of politics but unwilling to behave as holding public office now requires. Since there is no way of running a modern country except by the diktats of the puppet masters, it is actually correct to imply that dissent is futile and counter-productive.

Post-democratic conditions therefore present a paradox: neither the people nor political opposition can hope to overthrow the regime, because the only parties willing to take up office are those prepared to work the system as it stands.

Conversely, the only kind of politician able to stand unashamedly with the people is one who has no intention of taking up office - aware that the moment he did so, the dead claw of compromise would grip his shoulder. The most electable post-democratic politician, then, is one who insinuates revolution but resists all opportunities to achieve office. This syndrome recently manifested in Italy with Beppe Grillo, the comic-turned-politician who won massive support for his Five Star Movement but refused to take part in the formation of a government.

The weekend's 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown poll tracked our own further drifting into this oh-so-modern condition. The percentages indicate that we are heading towards a meltdown of the existing mainstream and the growth of a disconnected refusenikism represented by the Independents and - more ambiguously - by Sinn Fein, who play the role of gamekeepers up North but down south present themselves as poachers.

It reminds me of the "crush" back in the dancehall days, when the men would form a gigantic scrum and make a lunge at the women lined up along the side, but most of the lads would duck away and stumble back to the rear of the pack as soon as there was the slightest danger of coming face-to-face with a female.

Instead of a 'left-right' or other cultural or ideological divide, we therefore have a choice between those willing to dance to the tune of the corporate puppet masters and those who simply holler "no disco" to everything, but offer zero prospect of any alternative.

This puts into stark relief the chances of change arising from a new party formed by Lucinda Creighton or Michael McDowell. Since neither is a clown nor an oddball, it's likely that, on elevation to office, either or both would become subject to the demands of the hidden puppet masters. It would be nice to be wrong, but it's hard to imagine them saying no to anyone but the people.

Irish Independent