Far From The Maddening Crowd

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From top: Nigel Farage arrives at Trinity College, Dublin ahead of last weekend’s Irexit conference; Dan Boyle

If ever a picture spoke a thousand words it was that photo of crombie wearing Nigel Farage, with his Wolf from the Three Little Pigs swagger, on his way to the recent Irexit meeting.

The demographics of those who attended there were as telling. Overwhelmingly male in its composition, the men in question seemed made up of a weird coalition of an embittered older cohort, nestling with an angry and disappointed group of younger men.

The unifying theme was a common desire to shake collective fists at a society that had let them down. A society, that all too slowly, has been leaving behind its domination by a male, monochrome, homogenous group, the residue of whom now see themselves as society’s new victims.

The liberal in me thinks we should listen more to these tormented souls; seek to understand the landscape they inhabit. The social realist in me feels that the more time we give to placate the hate filled and the small minded, the more they are likely to believe that their views have validity.

The illiberal me is winning this internal argument. I have spent most of my adult life wishing such people, and their distorted views, away. They have lingered, and have re-established themselves, through misappropriating the language of freedom and tolerance. They seek freedom for others to be less free than them. They seek tolerance to be intolerant of others.

They seek to explain way their inadequacies through the blaming of others. Those of different skin tones; of different cultural backgrounds; of different religious or political beliefs; of different gender.

They fear difference wishing only to celebrate sameness. Only the tools of their celebration are hate and anger.

They find a solace with being among their own kind. Being in a collective emboldens their belief they are among ‘right thinking’ people. They are transferred, instantly, into a rotisserie of racists, a harem of homophobes, a melange of misogynists. At their most dangerous they become a falange of fascists.

As with most bigots what they often most hate about others, is especially what they hate about themselves – a perverse form of self loathing.

I no longer have the patience to be nice to those who believe niceness to be a weakness. I don’t want to hold any truck with anyone who seeks to divide and compartmentalise.

I live in a community within a city, part of a region, part of a nation, part of a wider World. A planet. All of which is, and should be shared.

Ignorance needs to be challenged, confronted and faced down. We should never condone its existence or that of hate. We should never give succour to any discredited version of a mythical past, or plans for a hateful future.

With all due respect to the late Spike Milligan, this Goon Show has run for too long. If the Goons participating in this version insist on following the likes of Nigel Farage, then he and they should prepare for some walking backwards (for Christmas) across the Irish Sea.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Reuters

Meanwhile…

Dan Boyle’s ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.

54 thoughts on “Far From The Maddening Crowd

  1. bisted

    …wonderful use of metaphor there Dan…did you mean ‘a falange of fascists…thought you of all people would spell that correctly…

  2. Bertie Blenkinsop

    Chap on the right (they’re on the right sez you) looks like a Toby Jug in a Barbour jacket.

    1. ivan

      v. good

      Reminds me of that Wodehouse line “He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say ‘when!'”

        1. ivan

          You do.

          See also “She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season”

    2. Otis Blue

      I’m reliably informed that the lad on the right – the one with a face like a slapped arse – is in fact Charger Salmons.

  3. Aaaa

    “They fear difference wishing only to celebrate sameness. Only the tools of their celebration are hate and anger.
    They find a solace with being among their own kind. Being in a collective emboldens their belief they are among ‘right thinking’ people. They are transferred, instantly, into a rotisserie of racists, a harem of homophobes, a melange of misogynists. At their most dangerous they become a flange of fascists.
    As with most bigots what they often most hate about others, is especially what they hate about themselves – a perverse form of self loathing.”

    This could equally apply to the groups of Muslims who move to specific neighbourhoods in Farage’s UK en masse? If you critique this particular cohort of society you’re now labelled all sorts under the sun by the looks of it.

    Disclaimer: I think Farage is an odious man and would under no circumstance support ‘Irexit’. Having said that, I can see where he is coming from with some of his points. Does this make me a bad person Dan?

  4. some old queen

    +1 Dan.

    Farage has some valid criticisms of Europe and he can be quite articulate but all you have to do is look at the party he founded. Assorted wildlife that can’t keep a leader in place for more than ten minutes without them opening their mouths to change feet.

    1. Aaaa

      When you say Farage has some valid criticisms of Europe, I think you’re spot on.

      However, when the author says “The social realist in me feels that the more time we give to placate the hate filled and the small minded, the more they are likely to believe that their views have validity” it makes you wonder if those valid criticisms can be heard at all, without all the needless insults being thrown about.

      1. some old queen

        Yes but you cannot ignore the wider context from which Farage has emerged either. He was responsible for Brexit then jumped ship as soon as he was asked to put his money where his mouth is. He offers no solutions to that mess.

        I am pretty sure that the general consensus within UKIP on Ireland and Irish people is not good. And look at who else was there. Waters? A sulking bitter homophobic bully who’s life mission appears to be contrary. And that’s only his good points.

        1. Aaaa

          Exactly – I don’t think you can ignore the wider context from which he’s emerged, but it strikes me as what the author is trying to do here.

          The line that preceded what I quoted in my last comment was “The liberal in me thinks we should listen more to these tormented souls; seek to understand the landscape they inhabit.” I’d advocate exactly that; try to understand what drives people to support these hideous people and the ideologies they espouse. Do you really think everyone who voted for Trump and Brexit are radically racist, bigoted homophobes, or sulking bitter homophobic bullies (as you described Waters)? Or do you think there could be legitimate problems in society that these people highlight in order to gain votes from many cohorts of the electorate (much of whom are actually quite articulate and cohesive in their thinking)?

          I feel it’s the latter, and unfortunately when the author says that “Ignorance needs to be challenged, confronted and faced down. We should never condone its existence or that of hate. We should never give succour to any discredited version of a mythical past, or plans for a hateful future”, I fear that this view would only embattle all of those who voted for Brexit/Trump/whatever-looney-appeals-to-them.

          1. Nigel

            I love the insistence that everybody else needs to make concessions to Brexiteers and Trump voters instead of stand up for what they believe in themselves. If you’re a liberal you shouldn’t be obsessed with reaching out to people who, frankly, hold you in contempt. A significant reason brexit and trump won is because of the number of people who DIDN’T vote. A lot of them disenchanted (or, yes, complacent) liberals. Reach out to them, energise them. Stop listening to Farage’s criticisms of Europe. Most people who oppose him manage to make similar criticisms without being quasi-fascist populist demagogues. Listen to them instead.

          2. Aaaa

            I’m not insisting anything Nigel. Is letting someone voice an opinion one of the concessions you talk about?

          3. Nigel

            ‘Letting?’ Who’s not letting them voice an opinion? They get the same opportunities to voice opinions everyone else does, Farage gets more than most. He was on national Irish radio last weekend.

          4. Aaaa

            The author suggests not letting them voice an opinion, or at least appears to as far as I can make out. Hence my comments on this in the first place.

            “The social realist in me feels that the more time we give to placate the hate filled and the small minded, the more they are likely to believe that their views have validity.”

            “We should never give succour to any discredited version of a mythical past, or plans for a hateful future.”

          5. Nigel

            That says nothing about silencing, that advocates for a strong vocal and political opposition to them.

          6. Aaaa

            It may be our differing view of semantics but I disagree with you. It seems to me as though the author is all for some amounts of censorship / less media coverage or something of the sort. I could be wrong though.

            On another point, strong vocal and political opposition is all well and good, but are you 100% fully opposed to all of Farage’s views? My point is that while 99% of what he comes out with is bile, the other 1% sometimes hits on valid points, which is (in my view) what turned a lot of voters in his favour, which in turn was crucial to a slim margin of victory for Brexit.

            As a random commentator on a website I suppose that it makes little difference to you what way those small number of voters think, but a lot of my spiel is aimed towards the author, a (former?) politician from a minority party. I think that the small percentage of sense Farage speaks affects a small percentage of voters who in turn have a gigantic effect politically – for instance the votes for Brexit and Trump which were both quite close margins. A bit of pragmatism from politicians with regards to those voters could go a long way I feel. But what do I know eh?! And what does it matter

          7. Nigel

            I’m 100% opposed to Farage. Even if he does have ‘valid points,’ we disagree sharply on the solutions.

            Pragmatism would be re-engaging with and re-energising the disenchanted amongst your own side rather than rushing to move closer to the people you oppose and who pretty much despise you anyway.

          8. Aaaa

            When you say disagree sharply on solutions, I think it’s more a matter of his offering solutions and many other politicians shoving their heads in the sand. See my standalone comment before this regarding some neighbourhoods in the UK – what would your solution be to it? Not having a go, just interested on your view. Probably would be better than Farage’s solution.

            We’ll also have to agree to disagree on your point regarding pragmatism. I don’t understand why ‘sides’ have to come into it so much. When politicians alienate a large proportion of the electorate to focus on a few, it can have ramifications for their chance of success, particularly in 50/50 votes such as referendums or republican/democrat system in America.

  5. Diddy

    Well Dan, say what you like about Nigel farage but history will show he is probably the most important and influential politician of the 21st century.

    He was a voice in the wildernesses who used YouTube to spread his message initially and drove Brexit when the big broadcasters gave him a platform.

    1. Aaaa

      +1

      In terms of the impact he’s had and achieving the goals he’s set out, it’s actually astonishing what he has achieved. I’ve posted on this topic a few times and feel like I’m rambling at this point…but if some politicians could stop trying to shut people up and actually focus on how votes were won in recent elections/what issues people really care about etc. then maybe they’d find themselves in a better position next time round.

        1. Aaaa

          I have not read that piece, but it seems interesting. Thanks! Will give it a listen/read when I get the chance.

        2. johnny

          “Indeed, the picture of potential Russian meddling in the June referendum vote has only begun to come into sharper focus as subsequent elections around the world revealed common elements—false or inflammatory stories circulated by bots and trolls, allegations of cyber hacking, stories in Russian state-sponsored media outlets playing up fears of migration and globalization, and allegations
          of corrupt foreign influence on political parties and candidates—that suggested a possible Russian hand. The Kremlin has long aimed to undermine European integration and the EU, in addition to its aims to sow confusion and undermine confidence in democratic processes themselves, making Brexit a potentially appealing target. ”
          Pg116
          PUTIN’S ASYMMETRIC ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA AND EUROPE: IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY
          https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/FinalRR.pdf

  6. Kdoc1

    I noticed that a couple of young men attending the Irexit conference were sporting Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball hats. Nuff said.

    1. missred

      Well, his Brexit campaign won. He was left stony broke though, hence the need to take on every single invite he gets to speak to a crowd.

  7. Andrew

    Extraordinarily hysterical piece. Akin to Fintan O’Toole’s daily rants on Brexit.
    It’s abuse dressed up as some kind of commentary.
    Of course the first recourse of the wooly liberal is to silence debate which is really what Dan wants.
    Dan, if these people have so little support and their ideas are so toxic to the vast majority of people, why are you so wound up by them?
    Let people have their say and the freedom to say it and people have a right to hear them and decide for themselves. Don’t worry Dan you have the vast, vast majority of media commentators all agreeing with each other and you. Just look at the comments here too.
    Or Dan, are you afraid that the people who don’t comment, the people you don’t know, will use the ballot box in a way you don’t like. We know the ballot box doesn’t work for you anyway.
    The fools, the fools Dan!
    Oh Dan!

  8. Jimmey_russell

    Brexit was racist democracy was hijacked by an ignorant and bigoted majority and now the UK will pay for it Ireland would NEVER survive outside the EU we need the EU to exist an Irexit vote would only make a fool of us anyway there is no way the EU would allow us to leave like that Ireland is too small and weak to stand on it’s own we are where be belong which is inside the EU for good we need to shut down anti EU sentiment people saying it’s a bloated monolith of bureaucracy and corruption are just concealing their racism in other ways the EU can be reformed from the inside change is on the way we just need to be patient our commissioners have our best interests at heart

    1. some old queen

      Oh dear. The torygraph. Step down off your evangelist pulpit for a minute and explain why food in British supermarkets is skyrocketing right now? Anything to do with supply contracts running out with nearest neighbours perhaps?

      1. cian

        Dan, to prove that you’ve cracked it: next week we want a “thumbs up” from Clampers and a “null-points” from ahjayzis

        ;-)

      2. Sentient Won

        For a man who claims to not like George Soros you sure push a lot of the same agenda Dan.

        Anti-Brexit,
        Abortion,
        Climate Change.
        The EU
        etc…

        Does it ever give you pause to think that you share common cause with a man who gleefully destroys economies in order to line his own pockets?

          1. Sentient Won

            Course the Greens know a thing or two about destroying economies.

            (Even as junior partners)

            Common cause with Soros eh? And proud if it!

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