Uncomfortably Numb




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

37 thoughts on “Uncomfortably Numb

  1. Neilo

    I remember Not The Nine O’Clock News running a sketch that claimed Ronald Reagan would usher in World War 3, Dan. How’d that work out for us all, eh? Oh right, a rusted Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War.

    1. dav

      I’ll always remember the Spitting Image sketch “The Presidents’ Brain is missing” which managed to convey how deranged Regan was, in a funny a satirical manner..

        1. dav

          between that and any time the leader of the SDP & the leader of the liberals were in the same room together, or Thatcher with her cabinet, or a grey john major or that labour guy who’s spittle went all over the place… or…… dammit the world needs spiting image more than ever…..

          1. Neilo

            @Dav: it really does – I can barely remember my own name, but I can quote verbatim almost every line from that show in its 1984-1987 heyday.

          2. classter

            ‘Cept that Spitting Image never actually inflicted any damage on the polticians satirised.

            Arguably, in fact, it was useful for Mrs T etc. because it softened them, made light of their foibles.

    2. rotide

      Neilo, I agree with you most of the time but that comment reveals a shocking lack of understanding of the political climate in the 80s and the process of the fall of the iron curtain.

    1. Dan Boyle

      I’m talking about liberals in general not greens in particular. But you are right that in our three and a half years as a minority party in government in a small country, with 0.005% of the World’s problems, we failed to solve any of the planet’s problems.

      1. Mourinho


        I thought you might have been able to point to one or two positive material differences you made to the lives of those less fortunate than yourself.

          1. Mourinho

            I believe nothing. I asked a question.

            My point is that if governments consistently raise the living standards for the rich and not for the poor then this poo happens.

            Obama and the Democrats were in power for 8 years. They caused this.

      2. classter

        Dan, I have to say, I often disagree with you but I love that you get stuck in below the line.

        Every time you post, you get comments writing you off for being a member of the Green Party which spent a brief period in govt with a much larger party at the tail-end of the Tiger. Safe to say that almost all of those criticising you have done nothing for politics other than cast a vote every few years.

        1. Kieran NYC


          He’s lasted longer than the geography teacher and the other Broadsheet-favoured PBP ‘academics’ too, who were given a cushy ride to spout the same waffle week-in, week-out.

          Fair play, in fairness.

  2. Sido

    “The long neglected seek the unlikeliest of heroes. They don’t require logic or consistency.” – Yeah what they need is *****, like you Dan, to patronise them, with your bizarre beliefs in your intellectual superiority, faux morality and your pseudo science! They can’t help it they’re knuckle draggers eh?

    Oh and as for your – “This is one of those factors that has brought about the world of Trump and of Brexit.” comment. I will be looking forward to reading more of this sort of rubbish, along the lines of Ireland being like a nice fresh slice of Kerry crumbed ham, sandwiched between the two stale and mouldy slices of (white) bread, that are the US and UK.

    Have a good weekend m8!

    1. classter

      Interesting use of the term patronising, Sido.

      Is it patronising to point out that support for Trump correlated quite closely and negatively with level of education?

  3. Roisin

    Homer actually said “fortfy percent of people know that.”


    Sorry Dan.

    I also disagree. The left haven’t engaged in civil discourse with the type of people who voted Brexit/Trump etc. The left hasn’t engaged in civil discourse with itself! It’s patronised them. demonised them. Racism is wrong, misogyny is wrong, but for a number of years many on the left has acted like possessing those views made a person completely worthless. Without trying to engage, trying to understand, trying to debate. I’m not talking about the Milos and the Farages of the world. I’m talking about those who are little bit ignorant, but are probably alright people underneath.

    This isn’t the time for anger, it’s the time for rationality.

    1. Gorev Mahagut

      The middle-class Left are in favour of “engaging” with poorer people, and trying to “understand” them. They just don’t want to live alongside them or socialise with them.

      1. Dan Boyle

        A lot truth in that. That’s closer to the point in trying to make than some other interpretations here.

  4. bisted

    …“This is one of those factors that has brought about the world of Trump and of Brexit.” …another one of those factors would seem to be you Dan…you have boasted of voting in both these elections…how are these interventions in the US and UK electoral system working out for you?

  5. ahjayzis

    The middle class left, like Labour, is indistinguishable from the centre-right, like Fianna Fail. They have no alternative narrative, only a slight tweaking of the system.

    And the hard-left for all their pontifications support the same outcomes as the extreme right. AAAPBP were on the side of UKIP for Brexit – Lexiters – left wing Brexit, mindblowingly stupid people who thought along the lines of;


    And Green voters and Bernie Bros in the states who see casting a vote as akin to wearing a political tshirt or having a political bumper sticker. Your vote isn’t for expressing your values, write a blog for that, it’s for deciding who does a job – in this case there were TWO options only, anyone not supporting the least worst was supporting the stinking grease fire now headed to the White House.

  6. rory

    Hi Dan,
    I was wondering, is there any chance in future posts if you could address the impact Trumps presidency will have on climate change.

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