Them And Me



From top: Protest outside Leinster House, 2016; Dan Boyle

Being unburdened by history and being uncaring about the future are just some of the benefits  of living in the ‘Us’ world.

Dan Boyle writes:

For the past ten years of my life I have been one of Them. I didn’t apply for membership and I don’t particularly want to be a member. It has been determined that this is who I am and this is where I should be.

It is only membership of the Irish branch of the global Them organisation, nevertheless, the sins of the many throughout the World are visited on we few.

Unlike the far more cool group, the Us organisation, we in Them are responsible for all that is bad or has gone wrong. Our foibles are all equivalent, equal to the worst transgressions that have ever been committed.

I long to be part of the Us group. Those whose accusations have greater weight when based on prejudice without needing to be in any way evidentially based. Facts about Them become facts through repetition.

The flaws of an Us member get to be judged differently. These are more sins of omission than commission. Context is all in the Us world. For their selfs at least.

Language is looser. Us people get to harangue Them losers at great length and with deep intensity. No epithet is out of bounds.

Consistency in word, thought or deed is not encouraged in the Us world. To be or become consistent is something of a heresy.

Logic is a pathetic shield that we in Them hide behind. The freedom to change what we say and what we believe is only the prerogative of those who belong with Us.

Being unburdened by history and being uncaring about the future are other hidden benefits of living in the Us world. In their world the counter factual explains everything.

A thesis doesn’t need to be challenged. If it exists it is believed. It becomes endorsed by others among Us who accept the truth it becomes.

As we in Them are responsible for all that is wrong, all that is required for Us to put things right, is to be the polar opposite of those who have brought wrong about.

The leaders of Us tell Us what they want to hear. Among Them there are those experts. Of whom there are too many. Of whose thoughts too much weight has been given. To whom too much attention has been made that has led Us down too many dark alleys.

For Us people there are no complex situations. There are no issues that cannot be resolved without the devising of an appropriate slogan. Solutions, like facts, become solved through the repetition of these mantras. It’s quite Zen like.

There is the option of being neither part of Us or Them. It is the saner option. The only downside is that the Us and Them groups share a mutual antipathy towards the Other. For both groups Other Wise is an oxymoron.

Maybe there is an Other way. A different way. A better way. For those who dream it is to be hoped that it may soon become Thus.

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


47 thoughts on “Them And Me

  1. Water Boy

    The vista of a new elected TD leading a medley of ‘Water Porrtest’ greatest hits chants in front of the Dail summed up just how daft the whole situation has become. 100 people who turned up just after the rest of us had finished working for the day lapping up ‘From the river to the sea Irish Water will be Free’

    The state borrowed €645m to provide water services last year and improve a network that was ruined by the absence of people contributing towards its upkeep.

    No doubt people will claim general tax pays for water, look at how much money general tax was short and the €200,000,000,000 this country owes, maybe 15% of that can be put down to Bertie Ahern’s failure to regulate banks. The rest is down to slogan politics getting to the heart of government.

      1. nellyb

        people not supporting causes that you do, would also reduce you and your mental capacities to a slogan.
        I am perfectly OK with metered water, but provided by properly controlled and state owned water utility.. But i refuse to subsidize dodgy setup called Irish Water staffed with corporate mgmt flies. I will only pay water charges on the condition we are not fupped over by sales, acquisition, assets stripping or whatever business gymnastics apply. Water protests are full of people like me (been to 4 of them), but we are boring and quiet, hence non existent for RTE or whomever has the cameras on.

          1. some old queen

            Oh the broken record is back. We do own it but it can be sold at any time, just like the major part of it’s parent company Bord Gáis. The only way this can be prevented is by a referendum.

            Now before you trip out any more of your copy ‘n paste one liners, I suggest you ask yourself why this goverment is so reluctant to put it to the people?

          1. 15 cents

            so you stopped protesting something you presumably thought was wrong, because you didn’t like some of the demographic of people who felt the same way? so have you kept an eye out since, for something to get behind.. with a nicer looking crowd? your values are all at sea, ol pal.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            No. One can continue to protest without joining a mob mentality like those in the marches. Just because the march is the most visibly popular way to protest doesn’t make it the only way.

            Contacting your local TDs, councillors, etc. and anyone else with a finger in the pie is also a tactic, and doesn’t require joining the mob.

            You can assume all you want about me, I don’t mind :)

    1. Eliot Rosewater

      The problem here is that you’re assuming everyone on the anti-water charges group feels exactly the same (and I would argue, making purposely incorrect assumptions as to how they believe water will be paid for).

      Some of us feel that the charge was a regressive tax. A progressive tax to pay for water would be my preferred option. Perhaps labelled as such so that the money gets ring-fenced.

      But how to encourage conservation? (Forgetting for a moment that water charges don’t encourage conservation for now). Perhaps some sort of tax rebate scheme depending on allowance?

      There are also very legitimate concerns regarding the possible future privatisation of water. As well as some seriously dubious deals done on the meter contract allocation.

      The whole article reads as a ‘poor me’ diatribe and ironically does exactly what some on the ‘us’ side of things actively try to portray. But it’s the added ingredient of patronising that I find particularly odious.

      1. pedeyw

        Yep. I’m not particularly bothered about paying for water, I am worried about privatising water. I’m also concerned about the iffy deals done with [redacted]

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            And for the record, a plebiscite does not legally oblige the government to do anything. If Alan’s bro or Redacted want a slice of the pie, all that is needed is a government majority to make it happen.

          2. Donal

            And what is to prevent a future government from amending that legislation requiring a plebiscite? Nothing but the number of votes in the Oireachtas.
            A plebiscite adding that requirement to the constitution is the only way to ensure a plebiscite is needed to change the ownership.

          3. some old queen

            How many times do you need to have this debate DubLoony before you accept the glaringly obvious?

            Seriously, are you in the early stages of Dementia?

      2. Robert

        “Poor me” – exactly what I came on here to say. Poor Poooooor political analyst formerly known as Senator Dan Boyle. Oh Poor Him. He probably used to be one of Us aswell but let his membership lapse.

    2. dan

      Water Boy, I hop e Jon Tierney paid you handsomely to write this garbage.

      For the record, €1 billion has been spent by Irish Water to date, not a single piece of water quality improving infrastructure or a single leak has been fixed

  2. mauriac

    not to be lookist but is that the best picture of Dan ye could find ? He looks like he’s just finished a full Irish while hungover in a Donegal B&B .

    1. Dan Boyle

      I didn’t mention water. Picture is editorial decision. The piece is about post thought politics. It’s just as much about Brexit or Trump.

  3. f_lawless

    Maybe I’m missing Dan’s point, I have to say to me that reads as rather condescending towards the Irish electorate. To tar us all with the same brush as if we’re only able to view things in “black and white”. Politicians get judged on their actions. I’d have respect for someone like Clare Daly, for example, who’s able to voice citizens’ grievances with the political establishment very well. The whole propping up of Fianna Fail by the Green party during those notoriously damaging years still leaves a bitter taste though.

    1. Owen O'F

      Looking at the Brexit vote and Trump’s poll numbers, I’m feeling pretty condescending towards electorates in general at the moment. *suppresses dictatorial daydream*

      He’s spot on on the namecalling bit. The playground routine abuse elected reps get is like road rage. Not everyone is a snout in the trough Healy-Rae carbon copy.

      (Though Michael Lowry for one thoroughly deserves it.)

          1. Dan Boyle

            Ah the condescended. My passion is greater than your passion therefore I am more right than you are. Thanks for proving my point.

  4. Nilbert

    This is remarkably condescending and patronising.
    The Greens were never even really part of Them; they played their role of Useful idiots, dragging their knuckles all the way through a disastrous term of Government until the wheels finally fell off the drunken bandwagon, and Fianna Fail were forced to call an election.

      1. Robert

        FG promised us they were Us. Then they got into power and turned out they were even more Them than Them themselves!

      2. bisted

        …the Soc Dems seem to be pitching for the D4 liberal card…Anne-Marie McNally seems to be as bourgeois as they come but they will likely go the same way as the hapless greens and labour. Anne-Marie makes Dan seem almost n̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶ socialist…

  5. rotide

    Dan hits the target again.

    while yes, this article is a little condescending, it’s one Dan uniquely qualified to write.

    it’s particularly telling that the first few replies to this post missed the point in such spectacular fashion

    1. Eliot Rosewater

      Ah come on, Rotide, Boyle did the opposite of what the article was intended to do (and part of that was due to the smug and condescending attitude: the condescending tone that you admit exists in it). Bar the tone, the main problem is lumping any and all people who disagree with the idea of ‘shut up and toe the line’ as belonging to one homogeneous group. I have a lot of disagreements with many people in the so-called ‘us’ side, as well as many agreements with people in the ‘them’ camp.

      The article is just an attempt to prove that the Greens in government martyred themselves for the common good of the people (the ignorant people who don’t know a good thing when it comes around and slaps you in the face). This is absolutely false: the Greens participated in a disastrous government that was partly responsible for the mess that we’ve been in ever since. And not only that, but it destroyed the idea of voting for the Greens as a logical step for many (myself included).

      Dissent is important, no, it’s absolutely necessary. And just because I may protest against water charges (or the EU, or whatever) doesn’t mean I can be dismissed as a freeman or whatever else you’re having by a condescending, out-of-touch, failed politician.

      1. Dan Boyle

        And by your last sentence you have set yourself free. Condescension and contempt is never recognise by those who blindly dissent.

  6. Mark P

    Dan, your party of idiot animal worriers voted for the bank guarantee. Shut your cakehole.

      1. Mark P

        Nothing unthinking about it, Dan. My view that you yuppy-hippy clowns should spend the next three decades sitting quietly in the corner, wearing dunce caps and thinking about what you’ve done, is the product of eight years of experience.

        1. Dan Boyle

          I’m neither a yuppy nor a hippy. I’ve never seen an actual dunce’s hat, other than in cartoons, if that’s what informs your thinking. I can’t see how the length of your experience, whatever about its quality, is supposed to convince anyone of anything.

  7. Mulder

    Well do ye know, who i blame, no not Bertie, this time or Kenny, fools pardon but, yes that`s right Irish water.
    Irish water are in fact agents for the German government and will suck the very life force from poor Ireland.
    Soon we will all be forced to drink beer and wine.
    Thus reinforcing the old image of Ireland as drunks.
    Irish water are ones to blame.

Comments are closed.