The Riots Of Man




From top” Donald Trump supporters last month; Dan Boyle

Instead of addressing the reasons why anger has been produced, the successful political strategy now seems to be to ride this anger.

Dan Boyle writes:

For about fifty years not a lot has changed in the art of electioneering in Ireland. Most campaigning revolved around the after mass speech from an open deck lorry.

It was during the 1973 Presidential election that American style electioneering was introduced here with gusto. The late Seamus Brennan, then General Secretary of Fianna Fáil, felt that campaign needed some pizazz.

Balloons, streamers, buttons, printed t-shirts, even campaign songs were introduced to entice voters on whom the ever more faded oratory of the past was failing to move.

The 1977 General Election campaign, the one for every voter in the country election, completed this transformation. From then on everything American had to be adopted.

It has led us since to the politics of the lowest common denominator. One feature of this has been government by focus group. Killing any initiative, discouraging any out of the box thinking. If it couldn’t be approved by the marketing gurus with their groups of guinea pigs, it wouldn’t be worth running with.

This in turn has led to the rush to the centre, and with that the bunching of political parties to the point of being virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Bunching in the centre, and the near total reliance on focus groups, has increased the distance between the governed and the governing. Who needs informed consent when the straws in the wind can be gleaned through the best in up to date political technology?

At least that has been the theory. The distance created by the politics of the focus group has generated huge reservoirs of anger, an anger which may become the next trend US electoral trend we are about to follow.

Instead of addressing the reasons why anger has been produced, the successful political strategy now seems to be to ride this anger. Echo its incoherence. Never to verify its veracity.

Always to play upon difference. Vilify, demonise, objectivise, criminalise and especially dehumanise anyone who dares to speak, much less think otherwise. Dumbed down Trumped up politics. It’s coming our way soon.

It isn’t though a formula that is unique to the US. We are seeing it in the behaviour of the Brexiters, Le Pen in France, Wilders in The Netherlands, AfD in Germany and The Freedom Party in Austria.

However it is in the US now that we are seeing it at its most ugly, most blatant, and to its most obvious logical conclusion.

Conclusion is what will follow. But neither should we succumb to the political snobbery of upholding some Platonic ideal of restricting voting to those deemed to be educated enough. Informed consent through mass democracy is still our only hope.

Life isn’t simple neither should democracy be.

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

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26 thoughts on “The Riots Of Man

  1. Jake38

    It’s interesting that while it’s the far right that follows this strategy in other places, it’s the far left that does it in Ireland.

      1. Neilo

        The only people who roar disgusting abuse, threaten and imprison people in the course of what they charmingly call ‘peaceful protest’ are your garden variety Trots, Sheikh. OK, farmers do it at least once a year in Dept Agriculture offices but that’s entirely different, so it is, so it is :)

        1. bisted

          …you write about democracy the way Trump talks about it…it’s OK as long as it gives the result you want…

          1. Dan Boyle

            No I not. I’m expressing concerns on how decisions are being made. It’s the essence of democracy to question motivation.

          2. bisted

            …Dan…you have used this column to boast about your obvious disdain for democracy…you have admitted to voting in the UK twice this year and in the US while drawing a pension from your time as unelected member of the Seanad here…that is an abuse of democracy..

          3. Dan Boyle

            In your twisted view of things it is. As someone who regular participates and interacts with democratic procedures at every opportunity, always proudly and always legally, I find your views risable.

    1. dan

      Don’t know what you mean Mauriac. I couldn’t distinguish the garbled final paragraph from the rest of the garble.

      Dan, most of the anger in Ireland stems from 2 things:
      1. Inaction by the political establishment on anything of importance. This is nothing new for FG and FF, for parties such as your Green Party the public gave you a chance to change the system, you failed miserably.
      2. Anger stemming from the high tax, low service economy brought about by the economic failure this Country has suffered, greatly assisted by the Greens during their short time in government. You Dan were a TD from 2002 to 2007, what private members bills did you bring forward to change that which you now write about on a weekly basis? Appointment to public bodies legislation to introduce a code of conduct (not legislation ) to govern this process.
      Part of the problem, not part of the solution

      1. Dan Boyle

        A bit of hoary closing line. Suggests you are not open to debate. Published several private members bills from abolishing multiple mandates, shortening to presidential term of office, allowing 18 years olds stand for the Dáil.
        On public appointments we make progress, having some such appointments made an Oireachtas committee rather than a Minister. But as someone who is part of the problem I probably never really tried. Did I?

        1. Sheik Yahbouti

          Dan Boyle – a p*ss poor answer to the very legitimate questions posed by dan. Whilst I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in some of your articles, it is very easy to be full of sturm und drang when you have no actual skin in the game – i.e., pay and pension entitlements. Where was all this thirst for reform when your party was actually in power?

          1. Dan Boyle

            Accusations aren’t questions. What’s poor is the expectation that change can be achieved dramatically and totally. What’s unfair is the charge that the desire to affect change either never existed or somehow was never applied. Neither of which is true.

        2. Ray O'Connor

          tried? in my case it would appear not.

          it took the Northern Irish regulator to expose the cosy relationship between Bord Gais and the regulator regarding the rip off of Irish Consumers . The regulator, the Minister and you were informed of the illegal activities within the industry, and the conduct of political appointees, contrary to Eamon Ryans assertions no investigation took place.

          Unfortunately the NI reg can only address the rip off of Northern Irish consumers

          The extent and scale of the rip off of Irish consumers in the republic still remains to be quantified.

          The Green Party are just as typical as any other Irish political party, from looking after the lads to air brushing posters for the vanity of the politicians.

          Hopefully the trend to move away from the parties of governments of the past will continue

    1. ahjayzis

      Peddling anger at economic inequality and injustice.

      Exactly the same as peddling anger at immigrants and the poor, right?

      1. Kieran NYC

        The point is to peddle anger at whatever gets them elected.

        Which is why you have the Irish left-wing against the property tax where the people with more pay more. Which is why they were against a polluter pays water charge from the start, before IW ever bungled things up.

  2. Dingleberry

    Odd choice of wording – governed versus the governing. Bet I can guess which side you identify with. I used to remember politics was public SERVICE. How dare populists want what they Perhaps you might consider that you…. ahem….govern with the consent of the populace and that they are rapidly withdrawing that consent from your class.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Moot point. Representative democracy exists from those who pass their decision making in trust to others. I’m not suggesting that those doing the representing are a separate or superior class.

      1. spudnick

        You mightn’t suggest that, but I would :) Or, at least, those doing the representing should be generally accepted as being above pig-ignorant populism.

        At times it’s a bit like watching a bunch of scrotes deface a public artwork, for example, and trying to take people seriously who say “well, it belongs to the public – the public are entitled to do with it as they like.”

        When can a ‘majority decision’ be called out for being pernicious to society as a whole? Only once the killing fields are in operation?

  3. Serval

    Broadsheet, I like to listen to music while browsing your website.
    I like to open particular articles in new tabs on my Chrome browser for reading later.
    If these articles intermittently start playing audible advertisements – that ruins my day.
    Some of these ads don’t even have a pause or mute button so I have to stop my music player.
    Please abolish the policy of putting ads that automatically play sound on your pages – otherwise I can’t visit your website anymore.

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