Flat Pack Democracy



Swedish design icon, the Billy Bookcase; Tony Groves


IKEA and Irish democracy.

A theory.

Tony Groves writes:

You often see them on a Monday morning between July and September. Mindless zombies pushing trollies filled with cushions they don’t need and more candles than a Vampire Movie.

Dry mouthed and bleary eyed, they seem to sway under the fluorescent lights. Poor lost souls desperately searching for the way out.

I refer to the GAA supporter, who after spending his Sunday at Croke Park, is made complete his act contrition in the aisles and pallet bays of IKEA.

They’re a bit hungover and remorseful, wondering if anyone can ever beat Dublin (they can’t) and their defences are as easily breached as the Boys in Blue hand-passing their way to goal.

These fallen heroes, when they’d done their Cost Benefit Analysis of the trip to Dublin, hadn’t factored in the cost per square foot of car boot capacity.

Rookie mistake.

“Sure doesn’t everything in IKEA come flat-pack and couldn’t our Una do with a new desk and aren’t those Billy Bookcases great value altogether. Look it, the more you spend the more you save.”

The Billy Bookcase really should be an Irish invention, rather than a Swedish icon. I mean, its original design was sketched on the back of a napkin, it’s inventors were obsessed with making things easier and more transportable. The secret of their success was making the hard labour an issue for the purchaser.

Today there’s over 60 million Billy Bookcases in the world, that’s nearly 1 for every 100 people on the planet. Every 3 seconds a new Billy Bookcase is born. Staff that work in the plant in Southern Sweden never touch a piece of furniture. The machines are in charge.

Now consider the Irish Inquiry Conveyor-belt for a moment. The terms of reference are often sketched on the back of cigarette packets and later fleshed out in politically advantageous ways. The “inventors” are obsessed with making their lives easier and transporting out of the way any difficult issue or potential blockage in the path of the gravy train machine.

Today there are more Inquiries, Investigations by Retired Judges, Citizens Assemblies, Expert Review Panels, Public Tribunals, Water Committees, Consultants Reports, Task Forces of Investigation and Public Consultation Processes than pieces of Legislation passed in the Dáil.

Are these instruments of obfuscation more ubiquitous than the Billy Bookcase? Probably not, but it certainly feels like there’s one born every 3 seconds and not unlike the Billy Bookcase, these “inquiries” are delivered unmade and it is left up to the public to put the pieces together.

Flat Pack Democracy, Irish Style. Thank you for shopping at IKEA.

Tony Groves is a full-time Financial Consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the Financial Industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld

Pic: Wikipedia

39 thoughts on “Flat Pack Democracy

  1. Pollen

    I thought we were done with this warmed up Eddie Hobbs/David McWilliams poo, where some vague political outrage without a solution is tangentially linked with a social phenomenon, in order to give the appearance of wit or social insight. Give it a rest.

    1. Rob_G

      “Are these instruments of obfuscation more ubiquitous than the Billy Bookcase? ” – no, but sure I may as well hammer away at this analogy now that I have started

  2. peavolov

    “Tony Groves is a full-time Financial Consultant and part-time commentator”
    Don’t give up the full time job Tony

  3. Rainy Day

    What is the obsession with terrible, clumsy, misplaced analogies? The buffalo yesterday and now this! Please make it stop…….

  4. louislefronde

    Tony, I prefer your earlier posts. But in truth, the term ‘Flatpack Politicians’ is a useful one. I wouldn’t be unduly concerned with the snarks on Broadsheet, a considerable number of whom already work in the Irish media and rarely come up with an idea which hasn’t already been copied from the Guardian…

  5. Steve

    Tony could you not just have linked to the 50 things that made the modern economy episode ?

      1. bisted

        …18 years experience as a financial consultant and you’re waiting for a bus…what kind of running dog of capitalism are you…you’re no Eddie Hobbs…

  6. Some Dad

    A real GAA fan would not hang around Dublin after the final whistle.Sangwiches in the boot and then back down the country

  7. And Social Justice For All

    Face it your article was crap
    Cop yourself on replying to everyone

    What sort of weird attention seeking troll are you?

    1. Tony Groves

      I’m not sure my self-psychoanalysis is strong enough to counter trolling by accusing me of trolling. What would you, random internet blob, recommend?

      1. Zena

        Lol, to “random internet blob”, Ive enjoyed Tony’s responses, they’ve given me a good chuckle.

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