(Brian Lenihan Sr.)
I notice on some Irish political forums that there are a handful of social reactionaries on that poor socially becalmed lighthouse at the westernmost edge of the Atlantic.
Some are posting views which chime with the above statement made by the current Minister for Finance’s father in 1987. Those views are thinly disguised under the heading of ‘economics’ but as one reads them it soon becomes clear that this view is recognisable as part of the Irish social reactionaries’ psychological make-up.
Ireland’s social retardation in relation to the rest of the world seems to be a cause for celebration among that small percentage of overindulged peasants chained to the aforementioned damp rock in the Atlantic. ‘Peasant’ in this instance being a valid term used by historians in describing a class of people not long from subsistence on agriculture for a living and resistant to change per se– even where that change is necessary, prudent and profitable for the good of the society in which they carry on their lives.
They may enjoy references in newspapers to their country being at the ‘heart of Europe’. If suspicious of Europe as a harbinger of change they may prefer to bask in the reflected sunlight of terms such as knowledge economy and digital Ireland but the ancient wariness borne of an island and agricultural mentality lingers on in dark corners in the fear of ‘outside’ and the outsider.
A profile? Hard to generalise but its unlikely to be the young people of Ireland who hold to these views. Parents with children for whom there will be no work are also unlikely to buy in to that mentality.
So that leaves us with the traditional profile of the Irish person maybe in late forties or fifties as a minimum perhaps with a secure job in public service- certainly those who seek employees in tune with the demands of the modern economy will not want to see naturally openminded adopters of new technology and systems leaving to apply young sharp minds elsewhere.
One sometimes feels like responding to Irish social reactionaries by extending their ‘economic’ theory to its likely conclusion which is indeed a very nasty one- that anyone outside the psychological Galway tent must be expelled, therefore the logical extension of the view that the surplus must not be a burden at home is that all old people, the sick and the vulnerable should be rounded up and placed in Dachau-like concentration camps for disposal.
After all should they not be made to make room for younger more nimble minds more in tune with the demands of an economy and workforce of the 21st century?
Are these people social reactionaries to the point of regarding other human beings as disposable? Are there really so many bitter and twisted psychological inadequates among the elderly conservative age-groups who would gloat over families losing young people to emigration?
Does Ireland still have a problem with the ‘I’m alright jack’ hurlers on the 21st century ditch where different lives, philosophies and social mores are confined to televised drama? Where the deep blue sea around our island is the protective skirt of mother for those who may feel inadequate when compared to the traditional social pillars of townland, church, local sergeant and TDs appearing like ghosts of Christmas at funerals?
Whats behind this? Is it fear of the modern world? Extreme selfishness? It’s clear that it is a cowardly view because it would be a foolish old man or old woman who announced that view in public given the distress among so many families whose children have left or now have plans to leave. Is it true I wonder, that old saw about nothing changing in Ireland socially until there is a wave of those who emigrated returning to retire in Ireland to shake their heads and point out the bizarre subclauses of Irish social mores like so much bramble strangling the rose?
Who are these frightened people of a damp rock in the Atlantic who are so cowardly as to post on social sites messages which clearly show satisfaction at the fact that so many young people have to leave?
What is their motivation? And should they be condemned for their comfortable cowardice in gloating over the competition for resources on a tiny island in the scheme of a world grown smaller but where they have an advantage because when the music stops they are already perched upon the chair- mainly because they never rose from it to play the game in the first place?
Its a conversation that needs to happen. As with so much it appears it may have to be a forced conversation in Irish public affairs.