[quote="Thomond Park"]I feel is missing is that it needs to be said that the Irish as a race are a tremendously resiliant and creative society in all respects bar one. We continue to elect morons who promise much and deliver little.
I agree, Thomond Park. However, I would also argue that we are also too quick and willing to listen to the hype thrown out by both the Government and the cultural and political commentators that generate the stuff we consume through the media. I will get back to this point in a minute.
The point Thomand Park made, however, is - to my mind at least - indicative of one of the other problems which we face, namely a post-colonial mentality. Thomand Park says that one of our weaknesses is that 'we continue to elect morons who promise much and deliver little'. True, yet we live in a democracy that enjoys largely free and fair elections. Therefore, it could be reasonably argued that you get what you vote for - in essence, if we vote for morons, we deserve what we get and are, by extention, morons ourselves. In a democracy, the government represents the collective will of the majority, therefore the majority of Irish people must be somewhat moronic, politically at least. If we argue against this, it suggests that we do not have a government that represents the people and, therefore, we live under some form of dodgy non-democratic political regime (perhaps if it was a dictatorship we would have better infrastructure as noted above). To project the blame unto the government without recognising that it is us who have put those people in power is a very post-colonial view of governmental power. It distances the electorate from the elected and heaps all the blame on the latter without recognising that the latter gets its authority from the former.
We have had how many freely elected governments since independence - 20? - I am only guessing. Fair enough, in the early days of the state it was probably more important to have a government composed of our own without any concern for the quality of the people involved. We have had plenty of time however to sort out our priorities, to know the type of people we want to govern us, to get rid of the back-door cowboys. Therefore, if we have a government of morons today, it is either because the electorate is moronic or we just don't care. We cannot blame the government for this.
The other element I believe which is a factor is what I mentioned above - we are too willing to believe the hype and the spin. Further up this thread, I contrasted the motorway infrastructure in Ireland with that in German and Austria. The counter-argument was that we should not compare Ireland to the industrial powerhouses of Europe. Fair enough. However, you cannot have it both ways. We endlessly talk about Irelandâ€™s economic success â€“ its growth, its wealth, its progress, its outstripping other EU economies. Yet if one points to a deficiency in the country, we argue how can we compare Ireland to Germany. Oddly enough, we are happy to compare Irelandâ€™s favourable employment rates with those of Germany when it supports the hype around the Celtic Tiger. In short, we seem to have lost the run of ourselves in all of this talk about the Celtic Tiger. We have lost our hold on reality. As de Saussure would have said, there is an imbalance between the signified and the signifier. This cannot be blamed solely on the morons in Leinster House. Yes, they give us the stick (the economic figures, the political hype), but it is our journalists, our cultural commentators, our estate agents, our property developers, our car salesmen, our mortgage advisors, who take that stick and run as fast as they can with it waving it vigorously. These people are of course not elected by us, but they do raise our expectations. We are made believe that we are one of the most prosperous countries in Europe, that we have euros oozing out of every pore in our bodies, so is it any wonder why we question why our infrastructure is still extremely limited in comparison to those countries we have allegedly outstripped? (believe me, Europeans do wonder when they arrive here awaiting a land of milk and honey). If we have high expectations, it is because we have been led to believe that we are nothing short of an economic miracle, yet when you probe that miracle to see just what it is made of, we are told that you cannot compare us to the industrial powerhouses of Europe. Best not delve too deeply then â€“ just believe the hype, put the sun roof down on your BMW coupe, cruise along our national primary routes and feel the overgrown encroaching brambles scratch your forehead.