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What you want to say – 17 July 2019 July 17, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

Freedom of speech and freedom from consequences July 16, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I was entertained by this from a Dublin taxi driver in the IT recently…

Sir, – I believe free speech is dead and buried in this country.
I am a Dublin-based taxi driver, and as such I hear a lot of comments and opinions expressed by my customers in relation to various topics.
I have learned through my own experience never to engage in such conversation, as it can be detrimental.
I would like to give you some examples of why I hold this view.
While listening to a conversation regarding the gay marriage proposal, I was utterly frowned upon for expressing the view that I would be voting against it.
I expressed a similar view point that I would vote against the abortion referendum, and was ridiculed for having done so.
Regarding the Brexit debate, at the absolute insistence of my customer, I dared to share my thoughts with her, and declared I was a strong Brexit supporter.
This lady, having literally thrown the fare at me, and abusing me by calling me every name she could think of , left my car in an extreme rage. She then stood outside the car, and proceeded to perform Nazi salutes towards me.
I had informed this customer twice, prior to her insistence, that I do not talk about politics or religion. – Yours, etc,

Some interesting responses after that to the letter =- for example the person who writes that while sharing none of his views:

Ultimately, in any democracy, respect for the views of our opponents is important.
I believe that pillorying the likes of [the letter writer] is unhelpful, and so give him credit for publicising his experiences. – Yours, etc,

And another:

Sir, – Paul O’Beirne seems to believe that the right to freedom of speech carries with it a right to uncritical agreement with one’s opinion. No such right has ever existed, nor should it. Free speech applies not only to your letter writer but also to those who would disagree with him. – Yours, etc,

It seems to me that the last letter gets to the heart of this. The right to expression is one thing. I’ve no issue with anyone articulating a legal opinion in a reasonable manner, whether I agree with it or not. But that right to expression doesn’t mean that the opinion has to be agreed with. I’m not certain that throwing a fare back or making Nazi salutes is necessarily the most cogent response to an opinion one disagrees with but the presumption that articulating an opinion in and of itself means people cannot or should not respond seems utopian – as well as an infringement on the right of expression of others.

It reminds me of hearing about other sites (ASF’s for example) where some have demanded access to respond to the thoughts of those who run them. This betrays a significant lack of understanding of the processes at work. There’s no compunction on anyone to offer a right to reply in the context of social media or to engage with others. That’s a right that is variable and determined by those whose site it is. And the idea that this response is a right is very curious. The point is I or anyone can start a site and again within legal limits say pretty much anything. But I’ve no right to demand a response and there’s no right for others to have their responses articulated on the site. Nor can I prevent someone from setting up another site where they fisk this site. Though why someone would bother is a different matter.

In an odd way the person writing the first letter gets it – they don’t articulate opinions that may draw negative responses because… well… they don’t want to draw negative responses. This isn’t an infringement of their right – it’s their taxi after all – they can pretty much do what they want. Rather it is that, perhaps unconsciously, they wish to control the nature of the response. Again that’s fine if they are happy to put the energy into it. I don’t think I would. But they cannot reasonably claim to be surprised if they articulate an opinion that is controversial or contentious and that generates a vehement response.

And this works other ways too. Those of us who have been in taxis and heard sub-racist or misogynistic talk from those driving them (a minority in my experience but not unknown to many of us) will know the times we’ve kept schtum because we need to be somewhere – or stopped the car early in order to get out.

Speaking of broad churches July 16, 2019

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Perhaps little surprise that the Green Party is open to coalition. But given their first and last experience of government surprising they’re quite so open to participation again.

Certainly their membership seems strongly in favour though some straws in the wind:

The debate on coalition illustrated a slight generational bias with younger members such as Saoirse McHugh and Lorna Bogue arguing trenchantly against any agreement with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. They also argued the party should identify itself as “explicitly anti-capitalist”. That was amended by delegates to “explicitly antineoliberalism”.

A lot riding on how many seats they actually get at the next election.

A broad church July 16, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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It’s interesting the ferment in the British Labour Party. So many issues. There are those who would query how wide a party it should be – and I’m not talking about those who left for the TIG who are, by my reckoning, simply not left-wing at all.

There’s always going to be a bit of a flux at the margins of any political group, and of course within such groups. Ideological position can be difficult to pin down. I was talking recently to a former Labour TD who went independent and would be regarded as quite left-wing. I was surprised to hear them argue that their view was using the tax system as a means of rebalancing matters rather than nationalisation. Of course it’s not either or, and nationalisation isn’t the ultimate panacea either – I think a much broader range of forms of social ownership offers greater flexibility and is more important by far than taxation in transformative terms. And the tax system is crucial too – albeit it is one lever amongst many.

But the point is that a British Labour Party unable to accommodate such views and many more wouldn’t be much of a broad church. It’s one reason I’m cautious about deselection processes. On paper it sounds fine, and in certain instances essential, ensure that only those with congenial views are elected, and yet the reality is that it could leave a string of seat losses and as we know the position of the Labour Party in the UK is far from robust. Indeed I tend to the view that a slightly more diffuse approach, of the sort that finally saw the TIG depart, is better than full frontal assaults. There may be those who the latter approach is more appropriate. But one interesting dynamic is that local CLPs often seem to tolerate MPs because they are able to be elected (I saw that in the WP too come to think of it). That’s a problem, but one has to wonder short of a massive change in the UK electoral system is there any great choice in the matter.

A lot, naturally, depends on what we consider the baseline positions of the BLP. I was a member during the last of the Kinnock years, and in all truth it was, whatever ones views on his leadership, reasonably left-wing in that period. Less so than my own position, but still clearly so. I felt that was largely true up to the advent of Blair. I wonder how I’d have felt were I involved in the early 2000s. I suspect that it would have been difficult to remain in the party during that period. Yet people, many very genuine and sincere and some very left-wing did, precisely because it was the largest and most diverse formation. And that was an enormous strength when as was inevitable the Blair project began to fall apart – and just on that I think one can easily argue that it took a good decade for that to finally disintegrate.

Sometimes it seems that there’s a view that there’s a sort of uncontested terrain that is the platonic ideal for a political formation, and yet look at how concepts and issue such as nationalism, republicanism and so on deeply divide political formations on the left and further left on this island. Which perhaps is another way of saying there are no easy solutions and sometimes acting as if there are weakens the very formations necessary to achieve them.

The world of workers: Job Stress July 15, 2019

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Well this is useful, although it does seem to state the obvious:

Although it may still be below the average for 10 western European countries, job stress in Ireland more than doubled from 8 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2015, the ESRI said this week.
The think tank also found that health sector and public administration workers are at particular risk, as are those in a group of jobs labelled by the report’s authors as associated professionals or technical. This group represents the foot soldiers of most organisations, not those in managerial roles but those doing the day-to-day graft that keeps the organisation functioning.

Discrimination – some new figures to analyse July 15, 2019

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, LGBT, Travellers.
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Discrimination is alive and kicking in Ireland. Two weeks ago, the Central Statistics Office published the results of a survey it conducted between January and March this year (web version here, 22-page PDF here). People were asked if they had experienced discrimination in the previous two years. Nearly a fifth of those surveyed said they had.

There is lots in the report to chew on, but I will look at two topics.

(more…)

Left Archive: ‘Leaders’ Handbook’ for Workers Party Youth, 1987 July 15, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. wpyouth-pamphlet-1987.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This ‘Leaders’ Handbook’ for Workers Party Youth dates from 1987. In a full 34 pages it covers a range of issues from ‘Where to Start’, ‘Running a Youth-Group’, ‘Financing a Youth-Group’, ‘Running a Campaign’, ‘Publicity’, ‘Speaking in Public’ and ‘Useful Addresses’ for both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Introduction outlines the purpose of the pamphlet, noting that:

…it is to give youth officers, leaders of youth-groups and youth members in general, some ideas and practical information on setting up and running a youth-group. The task of building a progressive youth movement, involving working class youth, is one which is vital to the future our Party, our class and socialism in Ireland. We long ago recognised that young people have their own interests, needs and level of commitment, and that therefore we need a youth movement to cater for them.

And:

The ideology of Capitalism, of the ruling class is the dominant one in our society. Its values and ideas are spread throughout the educational system, and a myriad of other agencies and organisations legitimise this position in society.

It is not surprising therefore that most young people form working class areas leave school with no real understanding of the world around them. They have not got the conceptual tools to even start asking he right questions about the world, never mind come up with the right answers.

It continues:

Hopefully it is clear form these brief comments that our movement should be primarily educational, with agitation taking second place. We must seek to develop a range of activities and a style of work that will build young working class people’s confidence in themselves , get them to participate in organising things, give them the tools to assess and analyse their society and world.

It outlines the structures and orientation of such approaches:

The best term to describe the sort of youth-groups we should aim for is ‘political youth clubs’. A type of youth organisation that, unlike the traditional youth club, take the development of young people that one logical step further, into politics, into gaining control over their lives. Youth groups that deal not just with the concerns fo the individual but also the collective, and see the solution to the problems young people face in terms of collective action.

The relationship between the youth movement and the Party is a very important one. The youth movement, while it must lead its own existence, is ultimately under the political direction of the Party.

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We are eager to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

Noise to information… July 14, 2019

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This from the Atlantic on Twitter is interesting. For all its much vaunted influence the piece notes that despite the froth of excitement on the platform over the released of the Mueller Report, supposedly the defining moment of the Trump presidency, there was no impact at all on his poll ratings – negative or positive. Indeed the government shut-down impacted much much more strongly on his popularity. Worse again, for those who are overly attached to it, Twitter users aren’t representative of the public at large.

This can’t come as much of a surprise to people, surely? I was always struck when commenting on Politics.ie by their polls. These were so hugely out of sync with general public opinion that after a while they were almost comforting. And the piece notes that twitter (and this is true of Politics.ie too, and no doubt this site) has more politically active or politically interested people involved than the society at large.

Which means that those who use such platforms (or this site too come to think of it) as touchstones may be making some significant errors. And the piece addresses the curious ‘flattening’ effect of twitter, though I think this is true of other areas too, where every outrage becomes almost equivalent – controversies don’t have a ranking order because of the nature of the medium.

Sunday and the Week’s Media Stupid Statements July 14, 2019

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Away and taking a break, but this caught my eye earlier in the week.

Someone well known to this particular column (are there column’s on blogs?) actually makes some solid points in this piece on Brexit in the IT. For example, he points to the counter-productive manner in which various parties functioned in the positioning on the issue in the last few years – the DUP which refused to accept a ‘special status’ for NI in the EU, the over optimism of the remain camp given the actual disposition of forces in play in the UK which led to the admittedly flawed withdrawal agreement failing to gain any traction. But then:

Finally the Irish Government, with the backing of all the main parties in the Dáil, has clung doggedly to the backstop designed to prevent the return of a hard border on the island. The net result of that stance could be the imposition of the kind of border controls the backstop is supposed to prevent.

But that doesn’t make sense because if Collins is arguing previously that the withdrawal agreement was the only game in town for remainers of which the backstop is a functional part then that’s a basic contradiction. And no alternative offered – just this “any feasible proposal for avoiding a hard border needs to be explored” , perhaps because there is none. Oh well.

The other revolutions – Greetings on the 14th of July July 14, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Another epochal revolution – perhaps, do I tentatively suggest, arguably the most epochal?

Here’s a serious question, where do people suggest is good in Paris on Bastille Day? All recommendations gratefully accepted.

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