The Irish Coalition Government, The Weimar Republic, and German Caricaturists
Ireland has a coalition government of the two far-right-wing parties in a time of real national emergency. A recipe for putative stabilised disaster. Martin, deploying a Gay Byrne presentational lightness, with the more dangerous Varadkar, waiting for the succession and handover in 2022 which I predict will happen earlier for a variety of reasons. In any event, the tail is wagging the dog.
Sinn Féin excluded a pointless leftist opposition without any prospect of power or decision-making created to languish in permanent opposition as disruptors. The non-entity Greens getting their pound of flesh and blood, though divided about how to apportion up the spoils or indeed how to peddle or create even a Green conservative agenda. The eternal assimilated Green coalition trap.
Now there has never been such a right-wing coalition government before as the parties have been divided on tribal and civil war lines, but what is even more sinister is that the hitherto divisions have receded and they have been replaced by deeply conservative corporate orthodoxy. In effect, the politicians are puppets on a chain controlled by the vested interests of ever more powerful corporate and business influencers.
This is a worldwide depression not even at its inception. Dark times. In fact, we are beginning to see the signs already obvious of stagflation and hyperinflation. A Weimar Republic meltdown. It is only an analogy for what is a collapse of civilisation and the neo-liberal model of the marketisation of human activity intruding into all sectors of life, and the virus has compounded all of these problems.
Of course the powerless and bought judges and politicians became part of that problem in The Weimar Republic as I predict they will be in Ireland, or are so already.
Much more revealing than any official texts of that period are many of the novels and the pictures which capture accurately what was really going on? Now in the film Cabaret (1972) the fictionally represented Christopher Isherwood is supposed to have left Berlin after he hears the Nazi youth sing Tomorrow Belongs to Me, an even more sinister version of The Horst Wessel Song.
In fact, in the book nothing quite as dramatic as that epiphany moment occurred in reality, just the gradual and growing persecution of the Jewish community, communists, dissidents and perceived degenerate races in a sedulous and incremental way.
The sense of unfolding chaos is well documented in Klemperer’s diary Let Us Bear Witness. He, in fact, was peculiarly well placed with a protected Christian wife and a Jewish convert to christianity but let go from his job. Furloughed. Perfect to bear witness in an objective way.
George Grosz, Pillars of Society/Shit for Brains (1926)
The picture above says more about how the Nazi judges and commissars worked hand in glove with their jackboot associates to precipitate the sense of impending disaster and undermine democracy in Germany.
Rather inelegantly it has been called Pillars of Society with the subtitle Shit for Brains. And if you look closely that is what you will see on one of the paragons of virtue.
Now this seems to me peculiarly relevant in Ireland today.
The following can be unequivocally said. In 2008, the double recession that hit the tiger economy led to NAMA and the bailing out and upholding of banking malpractice. The upholding of varied mortgage rates, the side deals of NAMA to uphold failed banks and speculators. The reneging on contracts and representations upheld by the courts and the persecution of whistleblowers who blew the whistle on all of this.
Now the Apple judgment, if not overturned, which it is at present but with an appeal to come, will lead the multi-nationals to decamp elsewhere as the entire economic model was built on tax breaks for multi-nationals ever since Haughey.
Conorovirus successively will destroy many small businesses, the pub and the leisure industry. And tourism is intrinsic to the Irish economy. How many can or will travel? It is a toxic time bomb except for the mega-rich and it is on the point of utter implosion as Ireland is put in another Level 5 lockdown. Economic unsustainability for many lives is very much on the cards.
Further, the EU as Varafakis recently indicated is likely sooner rather than later to collapse and, like a supernova, implode. And what do our corporate judges, bankers, lawyers and politicians do?
Well enforce further austerity and jackboot tactics and impose further shit for brains on a docile and far too accepting population. Socially distanced and self-isolated perhaps for the foreseeable future without a prospect of stability, a sustainable living structure or affordable rent or housing.
And what about our intellectuals?
Otto Dix, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia Von Harden (1927)
Well, the Fintan O’Tools, David McWilliams, Feminist Pseudo Intellectuals of Caring Catholicism or worse still Nanny state secularism, well protected judicial mediocrities and fabricated café bar pseudo intellectual posuers seem, to me, to be evident in this relatively accurate representation by Dix (above) of bohemian non seriousness.
Powerless neo-liberal café side commentators and/or time serving survivors spectating on a society falling apart. The collective act of Nero fiddling as Rome burns or being like Heidegger in Germany selling out to the fascists to preserve their income structures. Our paper of record The Irish Times particular complicit in this respect.
And what do they see around them?
The homeless and deprived and disempowered of Dublin. There after all but for the grace of god go they and they will keep singing for their supper to patch up and appease their corporate paymasters until the ship is sunk.
Yes, boss. Yes, Leo, yes, we consent. Oh yes, Leo. Be careful what you wish for or consent to.
David Langwallner is a barrister specialising in public law, immigration, housing and criminal defence including miscarriages of justice. He is emeritus director of the Irish innocence project and was Irish lawyer of the year at the 2015 Irish law awards. His column appears here every Tuesday and Friday. Follow David on Twitter @DLangwallner