Author Archives: Dan Boyle

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From top: Anti-Trump protest; Dan Boyle

You know about the ‘alt-right’, right?

Now meet the ‘Alt-Delete’.

Dan Boyle writes:

We’re hip, we’re happening, we’re now. We are the fittest, the strongest, the smartest and the wordiest. We are the future. If you want to get with getting us these phrases may help.

All you want to know about the Alt-Delete – A Glossary

Alt Delighted: That feeling of euphoria when given a prestigious platform by the mainstream media to publish the most toxic of views.

Benitos: Being blonde is good but being bald can be better.

Common Cause: Working together with Alt Delete movements in other countries trying to bring an end to international cooperation.

FemiNazis: The delicious irony when we call people we don’t like (and who won’t talk to us) Nazis.

Freedom: We talk about this a lot but none of us believe it.

Golden Retrievers: Minions of Donald Trump.

Legally Blonde: A classic film.

Libtards: Comfortable undergarment. Helps prevent chaffing while goosestepping.

Mushy: The ability to grow facial hair like some of our greatest heroes.

Normies: Fans of the beloved sitcom character ‘Norm’ from the TV series ‘Cheers’.

Oxymorons: Outliers. Those whose history and existence undermines the racial superiority of the Alt Delete. See Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Rosa Luxemburg, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela.

Paleoconservatives: Cautious archeologists.

Pepé Le Peu: Our mascot. Capable of causing a stink anywhere.

Raceys: A badge of pride for those of us who speak as we find. We know who the real deplorables are.

Siegfried Follies Line
: We want to dance, dance, dance into the future.

Signalling/Dog Whistling: You know what we really mean. Don’t you?

Snowflake
: Apparently no two are alike. We don’t like diversity.

Sticky Keyboard: A successful trolling session on social media.

TBTM: That song (Tomorrow Belongs To Me) from the musical ‘Cabaret’. A good tune as well.

Xenos: See Raceys.

We’re creating new phrases, and new narratives, everyday. We’re finding the English language extremely limiting in effectively getting across our vision.

Despite that we’ll be coming to a government near you. Soon.

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

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From top: classroom in Finland; Dan Boyle

Are we ready to emulate Finland’s education system which promotes potential and the love of learning ahead of the ability to regurgitate facts?

Dan Boyle writes:

Last week a story emerged that didn’t seem to get a lot of traction. Its source, being a report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, probably has had a lot to do with that.

The report suggested that the Irish primary school curriculum should be radically altered along Finnish lines. The Finnish education system currently being seen as the système du jour.

Child centred, based on bringing out the learning from within rather having it imposed upon, there is much in the Finnish system worthy of consideration and emulation.

This, however, is only a report. It requires one of the most conservative departments of government, that of Education and Skills, to bring its proposals into being.

I would be sceptical it would do so, or at least not do so while cherry picking those aspects that would result in cost savings, whilst ignoring those proposals that could achieve better social and educational outcomes.

Add to this a lack of willingness to interfere with things as they are, lest the new world order of bluff and blunder over consideration, takes offence, which makes change even less likely.

But we owe it our children to be part of an education system that puts realising their potential ahead of regurgitation; which can instill a love of learning ahead of being made into an economic utility.

By way of example I’d like to impart this personal anecdote. I get to help out with the daughter’s daughter. It isn’t an imposition, her joy of life is infectious. I sometimes get to collect her from playschool. From there, and until the time I get to return her to the real world, I occasionally get to take her to a local playground.

Initially I had to overcome strong qualms I had on how, sadly, our society views men being on their own with young children, regardless of the family relationship. I got over that.

The daughter’s daughter disabused me of such notions. Being the livewire she is she demanded constant attention. The exercise I was getting flitting from side of the playground to the other was exhausting, but aerobically beneficial.

She seemed magnetically drawn to climbing; on the steepest interface to the highest point. I stood nearby to act in case my Icarus ever came to grief, which she never did.

On one piece of apparatus I was more cautious than I should have been. It was about 50cm off the ground. On its top were a number of pods similarly distant from each other, on alternate sides requiring a step or a slight leap to reach.

I feared if missed a nasty graze or a twisted ankle might be the prize. I went to hold her hand to offer guidance. She refused my hand with disdain (I’m quite use to female rejection). Putting her hands on her hips she proceeded to tell me “I want to learn it myself,“.

If I ever needed confirmation that we need to go Finnish in how we educate our kids as they educate us, madam provided it for me there in splendid, suspended animation.

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

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From top: Donald Trump and Nigel Farage; Dan Boyle

The resounding message of 2016?

It’s time for liberals to get down and dirty.

Dan Boyle writes:

It’s been a crappy year. A crappy, crappy year. A year where the favoured, successful, political tools were those of fear, hate and ignorance. Those who have used these tools have become triumphant not by changing the rules of the game, but by working them through to their logical conclusion.

Lying, lack of disclosure and deceit have sadly long been part of our political discourse. All that those who have succeeded, now, have managed to do has been to ignore truth in any form whatsoever, to create a more sellable narrative.

Those of us who have lost, and we have lost badly, should waste no time crying into our lattes. We must adopt similar tactics to restore obvious truths into the greater public consciousness.
In doing so we need to be aware of who we are trying to repersuade.

A number of stupid political choices may have been made in 2016, but to characterise those who have made such decisions as stupid, or deplorable or ignorant, will make it impossible to change such minds again.

We need to acknowledge the liberal/progressive conceit not to have engaged with those who had opted out of the political system.

Those now politically dominant should be acknowledged for bringing the long neglected into the political fold. Involved consent is good. Informed consent is better.We should also remind ourselves that this new vanguard of the right is not a majority, but it has become a dangerous plurality.

How we persuade is also important. It won’t be through tedious debate or sanctimonious finger pointing. Getting down and dirty is where liberals/progressives need to be. Messages need to simplified, made into soundbites then repeated ad nauseum. That oxymoron, liberal disdain, should never again be given any oxygen.

What particularly needs to be challenged is the narrative that this elite that pretends it is not an elite, is best placed to meet the needs of the dispossessed and long neglected. Making them believe that in helping the ultra rich become richer we all will somehow benefit.

Like fuck we will.

This is not my usual turn of phrase. I would, and should, apologise. However I have become convinced, that those of us of a progressive bent, need to construct a metaphorical mirror to reflect back, to those currently controlling the political agenda, the ugliness they have helped to create.

The new dispensation feeds upon liberal niceness. It’s also likely that these heroes will fold if effectively challenged.

The coming era will be confrontational. It needs to be. The danger for progressive forces, is to ensure the clarity needed as to who the real opposition is. Progressives need to feed, not feed off, each other. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. There may further more depressing defeats ahead. But we’ve got to start somewhere.

Happy New Year by the way.

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

Cartoon: Steve Greenberg

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From top: Apollo House on Monday: Dan Boyle

A glorious piece of political theatre has highlighted the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

Dan Boyle writes:

Seven years ago much of my time, probably too much, was spent grappling with, seeking to understand, then speaking with many others trying to collectively comprehend what NAMA was all about.

Knee jerkers had already determined that it was about throwing more money into an ever expanding black hole. An exercise of the State protecting the assets of its favoured developer class. A blatant attempt to keep property prices artificially high.

Political debate at the time wasn’t overflowing with alternatives. Sinn Féin offered nothing. Fine Gael suggested a bad bank. Labour proposed a nattily titled Asset Recovery Trust. All that was being outlined were synonyms, no real different policy approaches were being offered.Each wanted to achieve the effect of improving the balance sheets of our basket case banks, by removing the most toxic loans from their books.

Then and subsequent analysis usually misrepresented the figures involved. Property values were eventually to fall to 50% of their peak. This peak has invariably been the figure quoted by critics in assessing the success or otherwise of NAMA.

The loans which secured these properties were never 100% of their value. Some level of repayment would have been made. NAMA when taking over these loans secured a 60% discount on the then outstanding loan amounts. This was the figure that NAMA has been expected to recoup.

It seems on course to do this. At the time I argued that even if it were to come back with a small loss it would be seen as having done a good job. In these narrow terms NAMA can be judged to have been a success. Why then do I have a niggling feeling that NAMA has disappointed, that huge opportunities have been missed through its adopting a narrow books based approach to its portfolio?

Crisis creates opportunity. The crises of 2008/10 have been the deepest and most serious we have ever experienced as a State. The parallel opportunities created have not been seized upon. Our political system predictably has chosen not to. NAMA, in becoming possibly the largest property management company in the World, has had an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent our built environment. Its failure to scarcely recognise this possibility is the reason for my disappointment.

From my time on the Public Accounts Committee I had viewed people, like Nama chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh, to be extremely competent as well as being committed public servants.

Any whiff of corruption on the sale of its Northern Ireland portfolio seems to me to have emanated from the northern side of the border. The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.

A large element for initially securing Green Party support for NAMA was that agency would seek to provide a social dividend from its activities. This was written directly into NAMA’s mission statement. However, there seems to have been an ideological blockage to having to fulfil this obligation in any way at all.

This is why I would be hugely supportive of events at Apollo House. Commandeering a NAMA property for use as a temporary shelter for the homeless, is a glorious piece of political theatre. It may not be a Bastille moment, but it does highlight so well the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

There remains opportunity that what is left of NAMA’s portfolio can be maximised for social benefit. I would be hopeful if not expectant. The hope comes from what is happening at Apollo House. The lack of expectancy is the cynical residue of my experience in Irish politics.

With the week that is in it, it would be nice if hope would win for once.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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From top: Donald Trump; Dan Boyle

We may yet sink deeper into this anti-intellectual morass. We may linger longer than we expect, and most certainly need to. But flames need to be kept lit.

Dan Boyle writes:

“I’m, like, very smart,” The Donald has stated to criticisms that he has chosen not to take briefings from the US intelligence services.

To be dubious of what such briefings might contain, should be a character point in his favour. After all dissembling is a raison d’etre for such ‘intelligence’ agencies. However to forgo any such briefing, because you already know what you believe you need to know, truly is ignorance writ large.

“A wise man is someone who knows what he doesn’t know,” that is a saying attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It seems, in its apposite meaning, to perfectly not encapsulate The Donald. His total lack of self awareness has been seen by enough of those who support him, as reason to have him become their pin up boy. His certainty being seen by his defenders as confidence. His confidence being seen as strength.

In this he has become emblematic of the post modern world. This world of the simple truth. A world without nuance. A world where complexity is an inconvenience to be ignored.

Instinct, not influenced by the organised thoughts of others, but developed through bias and prejudice, is the sad standard bearer of truth in these ever deluded times.

The simple truth is confirmed by surrounding yourself with those who share your worldview. To question is to invite derision amplified through abuse. It is the behaviour of an ever indulged child whose faux confidence should be more properly recognised as bullying.

This is the world where we have had enough of experts. Where scientists are the conveyors of hoaxes. Where shouting louder makes you more ‘right’ than anyone else.

Those emboldened by this celebration of ignorance now hold sway throughout the ether, on the airwaves, and in our collective consciousness. Those of us who choose to think differently (or indeed to think at all) could decide to remove ourselves from this madness. Instead we should listen. We should try to engage.

We may yet sink deeper into this anti-intellectual morass. We may linger longer than we expect, and most certainly need to, in this thoughtless swamp. But flames need to be kept lit.

Liberal complacency has certainly contributed to this ongoing political coup against logic. Liberal surrender would make its victory complete. Think on that while we are still able to think.

The further or deeper The Age of Donald persists, the more antagonistic the treatment will be towards thinkers/questioners. In the US the preferred form of abuse by the rabid right is a slight on the mental capacity (but more insulting on those with special needs) of those who won’t rejoice at this new golden age. This abuse should become a badge of pride.

The slogan towards enlightenment should be ‘Libtards of the World Unite’.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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From top: The Ministry of Truth in ‘1984‘ (1956); Dan Boyle

With so many of George Orwell’s predictions having come to pass, have we any hope of bringing about a more sane, more just World?

Dan Boyle writes:

In 1948 George Orwell wrote his dystopian novel ‘1984’, the title of which was a slight re-ordering of the year when he was writing his work.

Written as a prophetic warning on the dangers of authoritarianism, I suspect he would now be saddened at how many of his fears have come to be realised. How distant the World has become detached from his cherished ideals of social democracy.

Big Brother has become very very real.
An all pervasive surveillance, as revealed through the whistleblowing of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, has seen the commodification of personal information to the extent that unseen, distant forces now know more about of us than we often know about ourselves.

The extent of how much information on the individual has been accumulated now means the fear that exists for many, is that it is not the direct fear of exposure most are afraid of, but the awareness that those who have acquired this information get to decide the context in which it is set thus controlling its interpretation.

Our post factual World is sadly being being mirrored in Orwell’s concepts of Newspeak and the Ministry of Truth. Words are weapons manipulated by their authors to distort far more than to inform.

Truth has become divisible. It deliberately is being attributed as lacking in depth. This truth by its nature can never be fixed and must ever be transient. Truth in this cheapened form has become a currency.

Even when prognosticating on the geopolitical World of 1984 Orwell seemed fairly on the money. He envisioned three superpowers of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Oceania being the US and its European vassal states, with Britain designated as Airstrip One. Eurasia was Russia with its Eastern European satellites. Orwell was most impressive in predicting the superpower status of China as Eastasia, particularly as Mao Tse Tung had yet to take power there in 1948.

Among the scarier of predictions Orwell made on these superpowers was on the fluidity of their interactions with each other. Wars of convenience would be constantly fought between them with ever shifting alliances. This seems a fairly close approximation of what’s happening at the moment in Syria and in Yemen.

Of course these wars became deniable when their theatres and the alliances fighting them changed.

With so many of Orwell’s predicaions having come to pass, have we any hope of bringing about a more sane, more just World? The unquenchably hopeful idiot in me wants to get Orwell to ghost write a utopian novel pointing a better way ahead. Come in 2061 your time is now.

Help rid us of infotainment. Gives us back our real time information. Let us be able to think again on the basis of facts that are proven not supposed. Give us some truth.

If it isn’t asking too much maybe we could return to a World where knowledge is gained through reading books, rather than by watching YouTube videos.

Orwell wrote most of 1984 on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. Perhaps an island off the coast of Ireland could be the place in which the antidote to 1984 can be written?

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Pic: MGM

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From top: A roadside billboard in Havana, Cuba; Dan Boyle

Cuba was not, nor is it, a socialist Nirvana. Nor is it a Hades. The Cubans like people anywhere, aspire to better things from life and the society they wished to live in.

Dan Boyle writes:

I had a long held desire to visit the place while Fidel was still in control. As a TD I got to know the Cuban Chargé d’affaires in Dublin. A very impressive woman who was far from being an ideologue. That summer I arranged to take a family holiday there, informing her of our intentions.

We flew through Paris. The 90 minutes at passport control was not the most auspicious of starts.

The trip from the airport to our hotel was through streets with many crumbling buildings. The upper stories in some of these buildings were left unoccupied through being unmaintained.

There was the kitsch charm of the 1950s Cadillacs and motorcycles. I suppose we wanted more to absorb what was different and unique about the place.

Much of that there was. I will always enjoy the memories of travelling along the Malecón towards Habana Vieja. The main thoroughfare of O’Reilly Street offered proof that the Irish had already been there. There at a bar, while sipping pina coladas, there was a sublime sense of enjoying a three piece of guitar, upright bass and big, brassy singer.

At a art market I bought a local artist’s take on Warhol – A Campbell’s soup can in Revolution flavour. My daughter, then a young teenager, was invited to visit the Socialist Youth Movement. She found it a bit intense but was given some nice posters.

I found myself being summoned to a meeting with the member of the Politburo who had responsibility for Europe. The Politburo building, a bleak functional 1960s building, was located by the Plaza de la Revolución.

For two hours I was harangued there. The obsequiousness of the European Union towards the US embargo on Cuba was resting heavily, and fully, on my shoulders. I nodded sympathetically. The US embargo towards Cuba was and remains immoral.

I did point out that Cuba didn’t encourage appropriate support by holding some poor human rights positions, particularly in relation to gay rights. It didn’t help his mood.

We were there during the celebration of the Revolution. The three available TV channels all carried Fidel’s four hour speech live.

What capped the holiday for us was something of a mugging. While walking near our hotel we met two men, very much an odd couple. They claimed to be former Olympians. One short and squat claimed he had been a wrestler. The other long and lanky claimed to be a member of the national basketball team. We were wary but they convinced us to let them give us a tour of the backstreets of Havana.

It was fascinating. We were shown the animist shrines, some voodoo related, that were put up in many streets, in this officially atheist state. There were small signs of some private enterprise taking place, cafés and the like.

We ended up at Basketball player’s family home. We had to wait for the daily two hour power outage to end before we were offered some cool drinks.

Then came the scam. We were ‘encouraged’ to buy a lot of cigars from a family member who obtained them as a fringe benefit of working with the cigar company. I didn’t really mind as it was well worth the cost for that kind of access.

We spent the second week of our holiday at the could have been anywhere location of Varadero. This was my compact with the women in my life, who wanted to soak up the Sun’s rays than have to endure any more political tourism.

The journey to there from Havana through rural Cuba showed a national wealth spread even less thinly. Hoardings along the roadside advertised, not McDonalds or Coca Cola, but Castro and The Revolution.

At the resort, other than the people working there, the only Cubans we met were doctors. A paid holiday there for them and their families, was seen as part of their remuneration.

Cuba was not, nor is it, a socialist Nirvana. Nor is it a Hades. The Cubans we met, like people anywhere, aspired to better things from life and the society they wished to live in.

They gave no impression of being oppressed. They spoke with an openness, an articulacy and an intelligence I wish I heard more often in Irish politics. They were, and are, impressive in their resilience. Viva Cuba!

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Rollingnews

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From top: RTÉ coverage begins for the first of five general elections held during the 1980s; Dan Boyle

Each Great Leap Forward is followed by several steps back.

Dan Boyle writes:

I first cast my vote in 1981. Ronald Reagan was the US President, Margaret Thatcher the British Prime Minister, and Leonid Brezhnev was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In the general election of that year the Trinity of Irish politics – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, had won its usual 95% of the vote. Those of us coming of age then had little expectation that things could change quickly, or indeed change at all.

There were small signs indicating otherwise. A handful of interesting independents were elected. In Limerick, a speak as you found him socialist, Jim Kemmy, was arousing interest. The most that could be said about Seán Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus was his name.

Noel Browne was being elected for his fifth and final political party, Socialist Labour. Sinn Féin, in its Workers Party incarnation, won its first seat since 1957. The first Sinn Féin TD to take their seat in the Free State parliament.

The abstentionists were represented by the election of two H-Blocks hunger strikers. Those behind their election would later claim sole proprietorship of the Sinn Féin handle.

The Abortion Referendum of 1983 allowed some of us at least to fly a flag for another Ireland, even if we never believed that holy, Catholic Ireland was ever possible to shift.

It wouldn’t be until 1990, with the election of Mary Robinson as President, that any election I invested in yielded a positive result.

The nineties and onset of the millennium brought social change at a rate that had barely seemed possible in the previous seventy years of independent statehood before that.

Maybe those of us of a progressive bent got greedy, wanting more change more quickly. More likely having been denied change for so long, progressives have forgotten that change is never relentless nor is it linear. Each Great Leap Forward is followed by several steps back.

I fear that once again we are entering a dark age. The momentum has been gained, and the agenda has been won back by reactionaries. Hard won rights will recede amid much gnashing of teeth.

Despite that I’m not overcome with any sense of impending apocalyptic doom. Or with the feeling of powerlessness of the 1980s. Let them do their worse. They cannot roll back everything. When the argument has been won again, we will be starting from a place still far ahead from where we had begun.

Social justice can’t be guaranteed but it is inevitable. For now, at least temporarily, this is the new normal. We had better get used to it, but not for too long.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top Pic: RTÉ Archive

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: A crowd marches from Union Square to Trump Tower in protest of new Republican president-elect Donald Trump on November 12, 2016 in New York, United States. The election of Trump as president has sparked protests in cities across the country. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

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From top: Anti-Trump protests in New York, November 12; Dan Boyle

Liberal smugness has been quite content to allow previously inactive portions of the electorate to wallow in their indifference.

Dan Boyle writer:

Political correctness is in the firing line. Its existence threatened by an unlikely coalition of preciousness and prejudice. Those of the lofty left have weakened the tolerance of needing to prevent the use of any language of hate, by zeroing in on what often have been the most petty examples of such speech.

The rabid right exaggerates that the right of free speech itself has been compromised by PC practice and doctrine, when what they really are being denied is the right to express prejudice. 

PC is a convenient crutch for either the left or right. By focussing on it we are ignoring the far more serious trends that have created the shifting political sands of today.

The current shift, which we need to recognise is quite a narrow shift, is based on seeds sowed forty years ago by followers of Ronald Reagan in the US, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain.

This nexus promoted the creed that individualism rather than the common good should inform policy making. For liberals the State exists to meet unmet social needs, needs that become exacerbated in a totally unregulated society.

The real failure of liberalism has been the smug and patronising assumption, that enough of the electorate would always support the common good above individualism.

We are led to believe that this shift has come about because of the participation of those who usually chose not to vote. Those left behind, those who had come to believe that voting changed little.

This has been only partially true.

The political advance of individualism has been led by those who, on the whole, have been doing very well, thank you very much. Their motivation has been to protect their entitlement from uppity others intent on (as they perceive) spoiling their way of life.

These needed to add to their columns by attracting enough of the deactivated votes of the discontented/disconnected to make a difference. Again they have been able to do so by liberal smugness, that has been quite content to allow previously inactive portions of the electorate to wallow in their indifference.

This smugness has left unchallenged the alt. right narrative that has played so strongly to the ingrained prejudices of the individualists and their convenient compatriots from the neglected reaches of society.

This is the template that has been used just as much for Trump as it had been for Brexit, and may yet do in a number of European theatres in 2017.

For liberals to win back the narrative there has to be less head in the air, less Mr. Nice Guy. The extremes of politics, both right and left, have been well prepared to lie to secure their narratives.

Liberals seem to be more prepared to deceive themselves.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Getty

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From top: Hillary Clinton supporters at ther Javits Centre, New York City on Tuesday night: Dan Boyle

Time to bury our misplaced faith in truth – and opinion polls.

Dan Boyle writes:

I could get angry but what would be the point. A world, not mine, exists on an entirely different set of values.

Anger is its soundtrack. It presents itself as the anger of the dispossessed. It has attracted many who are without and many who are left behind, but it is really the anger of entitlement.

The long neglected seek the unlikeliest of heroes. They don’t require logic or consistency. If it isn’t what has been there before, by extension it has to be better.

Characteristics that should be viewed as positives, such the value of experience, are deemed to be negative, if the individual is seen as an embedded part of the system. Paradoxically a maverick can be celebrated for not being experienced or competent or just by being downright gauche.

Too many years ago the BBC ran a entertainingly amusing sketch programme called Not The Nine O’Clock News. One of my favourite sketches had a social worker affecting empathy. He was talking to an interviewer saying “I know these kids. I’ve lived with them for ten years. I understand their problems. Through this I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that can work is to cut off their goolies.”

Gooly cutting should be an activity we lily-livered liberals could consider taking up. Decades of seeking to understand and trying to empathise with those plights we sought to identify with, only ended up with our patronising them. This is one of those factors that has brought about the world of Trump and of Brexit.

We are now living in an in your face time. To thrive requires an in your face attitude. Ours is not to reason why, ours is to shout loudly and incoherently.

Anger is an energy. Not necessarily a positive energy. It’s enough that it exists. To direct it would be to spoil its effect.

If discourse now consists of irate ramblings, the content of such ramblings need not underpinned by anything as inconvenient as facts. Time was when facts were facts. Now facts are anything you want them to be. As Homer Simpson has memorably said “You can prove anything with statistics. 62% of people know that.”

If anything is to be is to welcomed in these uncertain times let it be that we don’t need to be protected from surprise. The art of opinion polling tells us things we need not know. It leads us astray.

As we bury the effects of a past that seems to have served us badly – an unfortunate attachment to absolute truth; a far too romantic expectation that debate should be civil; or that somewhat silly belief that progress is achieved through consistent behaviour – if we also include in that burial a misplaced faith in opinion polling, then our regret need not be total.

A Brave New World awaits. We have always loved Big Brother.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle