On Being Irish

St Paddy’s Day is passed and I have come to reflect on the quiddity of the Irish people.  An Irish friend told me that the Irish have a fundamental philosophy that dictates that things will work out.  His example was that one of the non-Irish directors at work became concerned about a change in political will at the highest levels.  To hear my friend tell it this director was running around like Chicken Little for want of a new strategy and plan.  His Irish counterparts were much more relaxed and and took the serene Irish approach to the problem — Things will work out: cibé rud a tharlóidh,  in Spanish que sera sera.

The Irish don’t appear to have the rugged individual as an archetype; there is no Marlboro Man.  While there is a concept of ownership and a pride therein, there is also a concern for others.  There seems to be very little of the “I’ll take what there is and others be damned” attitude that I find so prevalent in the United States.  There seems to be more concern about the smaller guy, perhaps because in international dealings Ireland is the small guy.  When the Irish economic bubble burst a few years ago, Ireland, under the pressure from the International Monetary Fund, (IMF) bailed out the Anglo Irish Bank (AIB) and implemented austerity measures that pushed the people farther into poverty and the economy to the brink of insolvency.  The government finds itself squeezed between the corporastocracy-inducing IMF and the anger of its people.  So how does the anger of the riled up Irish express itself?  Currently I see protests (Occupy Galway, household tax protests), and political humor in the St. Patrick’s day parade in the form of St. Patrick chasing the AIB snakes out of Ireland.

What does it mean to be a US Citizen in Ireland?  I feel shame.  From this small country arises an armed force of 13,500 soldiers.  And where are they deployed? From Wikipedia: Army personnel are currently serving in Kosovo (KFOR & UNMIK), Bosnia Herzegovina (EUFOR BiH), Western Sahara (MINURSO), Congo (MONUC), Afghanistan (ISAF), Chad (MINURCAT), Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Lebanon (UNIFIL) Haiti (UNDAC) and the Middle East (UNTSO).  Seems like they are helping people or cleaning up messes made by the US.   In the St. Patrick’s day parade, there were members of state police from Massachusetts.  Their uniforms, in stark contrast to those of the Irish Garda, were very militaristic and fascist in appearance.  While they may be the good guys, out to protect and serve, they didn’t portray that.  They portrayed the “might makes right” philosophy of the US Government.  Another float in the parade portrayed the Irish government ministers under the control of the banks and the banks making millions on the arms trade.  I feel shame that the US is the worlds largest arms trading country.  I feel shame that the US government has become a corporastocracy.  I feel shame that Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has come to ring hollow.  The US is now engaged in several foreign wars proving that government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation can long endure.  I feel shame that I lived in and was part of the worlds largest bully.

I feel wonder and awe at the Irish.  Socialism is alive and well here, and unlike the specter portrayed in the US  by the far right bleatings and machinations it is not a bad thing.  The Irish are approaching a crossroads.  They will soon decide if they will continue down the path of corporastocracy and all it entails or take another path.  I hope their quiddity leads to a government of the people, for the people and by the people and that it shall long endure.

Corporastocracy : (n) Government under control of corporations.   Often felt to be a kakistocracy.

— Claude


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