The New Anti-Culture Wars:
For the past 50 years liberal Ireland has styled itself as a counter-cultural force fighting against the tide of a conservative establishment in the form of Church and State. While questionable, this at least provided a general narrative for Irish liberalism right up until the overthrow of the 8th amendment.
The indignation over the inclusion of Graham Linehan, the former darling of liberal Ireland, on RTÉ’s Prime Time piece about transgenderism marks a new evolution in this ongoing cultural revolution that is as worrying as it is ironic. The charges brought against Linehan relate to comments he made challenging the validity of transgender individuals, and therefore his suitability for such a programme. Linehan recently received a verbal harassment warning from British police for similar transphobic comments.
The substance of these remarks or Linehan’s relevance on the Prime Time discussion is neither here nor there when examining the wider trajectory of Irish public discourse. As readers should be aware the protests of so called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ are for the purpose of gaining cultural and political power, a tactic that many across the political spectrum have yet to apprehend.
The outrage has to be seen as an attempt by the twitter mob and powerful NGO lobby in Ireland to purge often very liberal voices who occasionally commit minor infractions against the ideology. In June of this year the MacGill Summer School was torn asunder by claims of gender imbalance. The ferocity of the twitter response nearly derailed the conference and resulted in conference organisers struggling to attain ‘proper’ gender ratios.
It would appear that a certain degree of boredom has come upon Irish liberalism since their 8th Amendment victory, and with this boredom comes infighting. With old Catholic Ireland trashed electorally and demographically, plus the most progressive regime in Ireland in power – there seems to be very little for the vast liberal political machine to do.
Housing activism should be a natural progression, and to an extent the left does that with campaigns such as #TakeBackTheCity. However there seems to a larger self-destructive impulse to thin the herd with arbitrary factional issues and cultural matters taking precedence.
A notable kerfuffle emerged with the #CopOnComrades controversy where the Irish left went at each other’s throats following the publication of a polemic against identity politics by Frankie Gaffney. The article came on the back of claims that a podcast focused on housing titled ‘pow wow’ was an appropriation of Native American culture by white males.
Immediately this tore the Irish left apart at its seams pitting those who prioritised economic inequality against those who highlighted alleged gender and racial inequality. While farcical to outsiders, it shows the increasing tendency of the Irish left to consume itself with useless squabbles – a trait that should be manipulated by the right.
The venom directed at Gaffney and Linehan is merely a symptom of a self-organising consensus as shallow as it is vicious. Only a few years into total liberal hegemony, and the ability to partake in Irish public life is dependent on believing in a doctrine that men who surgically alter their genitalia are female – with failure to kowtow resulting in political ostracism and potentially criminal prosecution should the proper legislation be passed.
Out of this cultural permanent revolution Ireland will become far more an intellectual backwater than anything envisioned under the yoke of Archbishop McQuaid. Secular Ireland has ran head first from the confessional box to twitter mobs, ruthlessly enforcing the latest progressive fad imported from abroad with Irish life held hostage.
Surviving the Irish Thermidor:
As an online publication named in homage of Edmund Burke, we know all too well the eventual endgame of revolutionary purges. As in France of the 18th century, we have reached the end stage of the revolutionary period where the forces of conservative reaction are defeated and the revolution turns inward.
The France of this period was labelled Thermidor. Perhaps a suitable name could be found as Gaeilge for us. In the case of Ireland there are no more priests hiding under the bed now that the Catholic right and clerical state are vanquished. At this point the Irish cultural revolution and its apparatchiks must find a new bogeyman to justify their existence.
Whether he knows it or not, Linehan is filling in as a substitute male patriarchal archetype for them to act against. In the same way Marxism was never about worker emancipation, the driving force of the Irish cultural revolution was not so much about reforming Ireland but rather undermining the foundations of Irish life out of childish spite.
Linehan is no friend of Irish conservatism – an avowed West Brit who made his fame harpooning Irish life through the hilarious and brilliant yet nihilistic Father Ted series, and who even campaigned for a Yes vote in the abortion referendum. Despite all this he is being lined up against the wall by a beast he helped nurture.
How many more figures in Irish public life must be looking over their shoulder, anxious about crossing the invisible line? Will it be the case that debate in Ireland will consist of a few self-selected sycophants obedient to the new order? How much oxygen will these cultural dogfights take up? Apart from strangling debate, the only victors of the stasis induced by these culture wars are those able to manipulate them.
Simon Harris, an avowed political charlatan, appears able to feed the progressive grievance machine to his advantage over matters of abortion and secularism while presiding over a disastrous Health Ministry. Perhaps this is the political future of Ireland: Recurring neoliberal governments under Fine Gael manipulating the new social dynamic as the left tears itself apart and the right tries to find its footing.
The only strategy for the right at the moment is to allow the flames of the liberal revolution to burn themselves out. The cultural matrix we live in now is the by-product of decades of subversion by the left in the realm of education, politics, and the media.
A revolution that began in the 1940s with publications like The Bell critiquing the excesses De Valera’s Ireland, is quickly unravelling under the weight of its own puritanism. Despite his faults, Linehan exhibited a textbook example of how to undermine a moral order using humour with Father Ted.
Perhaps in time, the extremity of liberal Ireland will produce its own comedic downfall – though we should expect it to come from the hidden corners of the Internet rather than the state broadcaster.