What to do when yuppies go rogue? That must be the question ruminated upon by elements of our government at the political noises being made by former tech golden boy Paddy Cosgrave, famous by way of the ill fated Web Summit.
Idolised in the years subsequent to the IMF Bailout, Cosgrave made a name for himself by starting the international tech conference in 2009. While the conference infamously bailed out of its original Dublin location following a very embarrassing schism with our apparatus of state in 2015, Cosgrave nevertheless played a certain role as entrepreneurial eye candy during the early Kenny years.
Remerging onto the political radar the past 18 months with certain outspoken but more often blunderous Twitter commentary, Cosgrave’s political pivot towards populism has irked some and intrigued others. Generally throwing his lot in with the rising tide of Sinn Féin, Cosgrave has specialised in his eyes calling out cronyism he witnessed from his former political handlers in government.
Offering nothing majorly original in his critiques, he has however raised some eyebrows not just among the government aligned voices, but those on the left uncomfortable with his uncodified brand of contrarianism. This side of Gemma O’Doherty the left is sceptical of types of populism not fully sycophantic to leftist cultural norms.
Certainly by channelling DP Moran in calling Senator Neal Richmod a ‘Castle Catholic’ and accusing parts of Irish press pack of collaborating with British intelligence, there is enough red meat to have the hearts of some on the left pumping.
That being said his rhetoric so far has been plainly if not recursively left of centre, staying well away from the social and political topics that would see him expelled from certain circles if he erred in the wrong direction, (Covid, Euroscepticism and Immigration).
It’s all very well calling out cronyism from the safety of a Twitter account,but if Cosgrave so much as came out as a TERF he would soon discover our actualing ruling elite as far more different than his fantasies. Since the Crash that old school gombeen state while still lingering around has been semi retired in favour of the ruthless NGO Republic we know today.
Trinity educated, Cosgrave cut his teeth in the famous entrepreneurial breeding group of TCD BESS. Supposedly editing the campus’s laugh rag Piranha amidst a very public controversy over racism and use of the headline “Stinking sand niggers outraged by Danish slight on their towel-headed religion,” during the cartoon crisis of 2005, Cosgrave has stated he was not at the helm of the magazine at the time.
While construing himself as something of a rebel today, Cosgrave nevertheless scarpered at the slightest hint of regime opprobrium when he promptly retracted an invite to French opposition leader Marine Le Pen to the WebSummit in 2018.
The past year, and with the assistance of the businessman Chay Bowes and magazine Village, Cosgrave has been front and centre of the LeoTheLeak scandal, increasingly operating as a political wingman to Sinn Féin. Considering the de facto police state we’ve waltzed into with covid mania, nevermind daily humiliation inflicted upon the Irish population, the leaking scandal is chicken feed, but one which may as well happen to add some pressure on the government.
For the shinners, Cosgrave’s endorsement is perhaps the final seal of approval before they cross the threshold into power. Feted at one time by Fine Gael and co., Cosgrave opting away from the government hints at how politically moribund the current band in Merrion Street have become.
In brunt socio economic terms, Cosgrave typifies a generation and class locked out of middle class easy street following the turmoil of the last decade. Cosgrave represents a breaking of ranks among tech bros tilting the way of Sinn Féin.
His variety of anti-gombeen populism is however a type of ideological limited hangout in this day and age where the actual power centre has shifted to the NGO and transnational realm. Calling out petty cronyism is enough to gain public applause, actually going for the jugular and attacking the roots of our national malaise (liberalism) is another.
From my own limited experience with the man when he did the university speaking circuit he is a rather sincere albeit politically naive tech bro, latently conscious of the injustices abounding in our body politic but without the ideological tools to combat it. Such a pity a man of good instinct finds himself lost in the swampy waters of Sinn Féin populism.
Expect Cosgrave to play an interesting role in the inevitable left coalition destined to take the political reins off the present duopoly the next few years. Something of a Russell Brand type character with his unserious populism, one could very well see Cosgrave thrown to the wolves should he step out of line with woke dogma.
Not long ago Gemma O’Doherty herself was riding high off the pages off Village Magazine before leaving the reservation. No, Cosgrave is not our guy but by not being totally under the left’s ideological thumb he may not be theirs either.