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Software Errors… September 30, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

The news today that there were two massive errors in the calculated grades system calculations is not unpexected

I can’t believe that the Software wasn’t tested properly (over 10% of the students are impacted by these errors), that the Department signed off on the Software having presumably tested it.

The worst part is probably that they have known this for a week. A week? I gather some CAO offers went out late last week. The delay is really quite incredible.

Security deficit September 30, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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I was thinking this weekend about an odd aspect of the narrative in the public sphere around certain issues relating to the pandemic, particularly those coming from the far-right. And it is this. In essence fascism and the far-right offer appeals to security – sometimes by pointing to others, in a scape-goating fashion, at other times (or simultaneously) looking at economic or cultural issues that they paint as a danger to the nation and/or the state or the people. One can reduce this to the idea that for them – bar radical and marginal fringes – tomorrow must be like yesterday. It’s conservatism, but bound up in reaction. In a way the radicalism of fascism is performative, quite literally so in terms of spectacle, because the underlying power relationships – and we saw this in practice, arguably Spain being one of the most illuminating examples under Franco, were ones where capital and pre-existing hierarchical social relations were maintained and even extended, whatever the workerist (after a fashion) rhetoric of the Falange. It’s not that the state didn’t take an interest in private enterprise, but capital was able to broadly make accomodations with the new regimes.

And in this context security is about preserving the integrity of the people, as defined by them. This can be in relation to racial or other threats – as in Spain where the ‘threat’ was oriented around ideological threats (of such range that at this remove it is telling to see how they encompassed far left through to some right of centre strands in conservatism).

But at heart the message, the appeal as it were, is to security. Trust us, give us state power and we will ensure your safety. Now, there are obviously caveats to this. The martial aspect of fascism(s) was such that such safety was contingent. A war and instability weary German people didn’t sign up for massive expansion through military conquest of the Reich, but that is what they got. And it was deep in the DNA of those in charge of the National Socialist state. But – the Spanish example, and arguably even that of Italy, suggest that it was possible for that dynamic to be contained or even suppressed in practice.

Which brings us to the contemporary situation where we see the far-right in this state, and elsewhere, cosying up to pandemic denialists and so on. Unwise to overstate this, but there is a reality that this may not be the best option for them, because the pandemic itself impacts grievously on the security of populations. And the evidence of its existence and the necessity for measures, such as masks, to be taken is so obvious – generally – that the cohort open to contrarian messages is quite limited. Simply put as numbers rise of cases and deaths it becomes more and more difficult to paint oneself as a champion of the ‘people’ however tightly one describes that people.

Indeed conspicuous by its absence is any concern for workers or communities in all this. At a time when frontline workers in health and other areas have been appallingly impacted by the virus, where in meat factories other workers have been likewise suffering, where communities have seen cases ramp up, where old people at a point in their lives where their safety and health should be first and foremost have fallen to the unchecked spread of the virus through care homes and so those forces have allied themselves with those who claim none of this has happened or if they accept it has downplay it completely.

There’s another aspect which is that that contrarian cohort is also so variegated and so clearly driven in large part by a sense of personal autonomy and, it seems reasonable to posit, an individualism set against collective solutions that it provides a not entirely reliable catchment area for the far right. That said as even a cursory reflection on the past provides, fascism always had this odd tilt (or perhaps not so odd given the irrationality that lies at its heart) towards the esoteric. Moons of Ice, amalgams of various theological strands, and so on being a part and parcel of it, albeit to a somewhat marginal degree. But one would think that some of those cleaving to anti-mask positions are unlikely political soldiers for the long haul of the march towards Irish political institutions.

Perhaps part of this is the example of the Five Star Movement which in its hazy liberalism crossed with something all too new age provided political cover and an all too expedient means of levering far-right forces to state power in Italy. But even that example is conflicted – quite against the expectations of Salvini the 5SM ran to the left when it decided it had no other option.

Again, all this is in a sense hypothetical. The range of forces on this island remain small, but they have managed to use the pandemic to further their profile. There are more of them than there were five years ago. That is a reflection and a function of the socio-economic dislocaiton of the past decade. What happens next is an open question. At national level the scope for a breakthrough seems remote in the extreme. At local level so far it appears similar. Much depends upon the response not just of the left but the republican left up to and including SF.

But it seems that one obvious critique that should be leveled against those who argue for so-called ‘freedoms’ is the complete lack of interest displayed in the actual lived lives and safety of workers across this island and the denial of reality in regard to the threat that the pandemic presents to them.

Armed response September 30, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

What to make of this in relation to moves now to reduce the number of Garda permitted to use firearms.

“The big issue was, do we know how many are carrying guns? And if they are what are they doing with them,” said Chief Supt Brian Sutton of the Special Tactics and Operations Command, explaining the reasons behind the 2019 review. He said the review found people who were promoted or assigned to a desk-based job were still being issued weapons despite having little use for them. “These were people who would only have their gun when they’re going to the range for training.”

Podcast – Independent Fianna Fáil (Blaney) September 30, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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This episode tell the story of the Independent Fianna Fáil party founded by Neil T. Blaney after his expulsion from Fianna Fáil. It lasted from 1973 until 2006. There’s a background to Blaney , a brief bit on his career as a Minister, Blaneys time in Europe as well as the various elections the party fought.
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Debate September 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone watch the US Presidential debate last night? I couldn’t bring myself to, in fact I don’t think in all honesty I’ve ever waited up for one. Which suggests I’ve never sat through one. It’s not just the time difference, the chaos that actually ensued was predictable enough. I’d no appetite to have to sit through that. Anyone with a stronger stomach, and any sense of where things are going?

What you want to say – 30 September 2020 September 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

A political space? September 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Interesting analysis here in the Examiner on political developments at the fringe. Commenting on the far-right attacks on counter-protesters this month at marches Natasha Dromey (attached to University College Cork), an expert of terrorism argues that such violence risks being normalised if the state doesn’t push back hard against it.

She notes:

Responding to comments from garda sources to the Irish Examiner that the groups in question are a “pick and mix” and a “witch’s brew” of groups, she said: “Interestingly a lot of these groups do not like to engage with each other and tend to stay separate.


“Even though they may share a baseline ideology their narratives and lust for power keeps them apart, as is the case with the majority of extremist and terrorist organisations.”

But it can’t be the state alone in that response. Thinking of the enormous campaigns around the referendums this decade one has to ask where that energy has gone and how would it be possible to bring it back to the fore, particularly given the visceral hatred on display for progressive causes at the events this month.


She doesn’t expect to see in the near future a political party emerging to represent these groups

“I do not think that, as it stands, there is space or enough vulnerability within the Irish political system for groups like this to infiltrate or be represented as a viable political alternative.”

But she added: “That is not to say, however, that there is not an element within society that does not strongly support and agree with these groups. The danger would be that all it would take would be a trigger even to provide the catalyst for them to expand their support bases and bring those who are underlying supporters to light.”

Talking to various people their feeling is that at least some of those groups are trying to carve out representational political space. It’s very difficult to assess what space is available there for them given the remarkable range represented at local and national level.

A fantasy land… September 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to the person who sent me a link to this, an actually pretty good piece by Nick Cohen on the ‘libertarian Covid fantasy land’ that is Sweden for Tories and libertarians, at least in relation to the pandemic. It makes one realise just how much of a loss his near-Blairite tilt in the last ten years has been for left journalism.

But the substance is particularly solid because he doesn’t just dismiss the overheated claims about how Sweden has tackled the virus, noting that:

The fantasy land of Sweden where sickness never comes is a fairytale. By not locking down in the spring, Sweden had a more protracted outbreak with far more deaths per capita than its neighbours. Admittedly, its death rate was not as bad as Britain’s. But then no European country had a death rate as bad as Britain’s because no other European country put the village idiot in charge. Nor did the “mastermind” Tegnell save the Swedish economy. Spending fell by nearly as much in Sweden, which did not lock down, as in Denmark, which did. As for the claim that Sweden would avoid a second wave, Swedish health officials are now proposing local lockdowns of a type we know too well.

And of course restrictions in Sweden are very real in advance of those proposed lockdowns. But he also points to a reality about Sweden that in all the hype is forgotten. While a pale shadow of the social democracy it once was there are tangible aspects of the politico-societal mix that have a real impact too.

You never hear the Telegraph or the Mail say that we need Swedish levels of sickness benefit to ensure that carriers stay at home and quarantine. Or Swedish levels of housing benefit to ensure that they aren’t evicted from those same homes. The knights of the suburbs do not insist that the hundreds of thousands who will be thrown on the dole in the coming months need Swedish levels of unemployment benefit and an interventionist Scandinavian state to retrain them.

It may well be some or all of these that have in part blunted some of the worst aspects of its approach hitherto. And in any event, these are key aspects of any progressive dispensation. Whereas in Britain:

Rishi Sunak says there is no point in subsidising many of the pre-Covid-19 jobs in the high street and hospitality because they are not coming back. But, like the Tories of the 1980s, he is not offering retraining to prepare the unemployed for the jobs of the future. Once again, unemployment is the responsibility of the unemployed, even though it’s a stretch to see how they are responsible for a virus jumping species in Wuhan.

No lobbying… September 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A sign of the times, in more ways than one:

Former junior minister and senator Michael D’Arcy has not received an exemption from the Standards in Public Office Commission in order to take up a new role with the Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM).


In a statement, IAIM said it and Michael D’Arcy are fully aware of SIPO’s guidelines and that he will not be engaging in any lobbying activities, in accordance with the cooling off period for the first 12 months of leaving office.

But how interesting that he should choose now to depart the Seanad. What does this say about his sense of where his party is going in the future…

Italian regional elections: An overview September 28, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A very welcome post from GregTimo

Italian regional elections (held over 20-21st September, 2020)

Democratic party (PD) leader Zingaretti is the masked figure waving in the left- neoliberal/centre-left Repubblica lead article here.

See also for map of regions (leading to specific results) .

There is a messy Wiki in english of results so far this year (leading on to regional Wikis) .

7 regions were up for grabs, the centre-left (now including 5 star in Liguria in the north) held 3 and lost one, while the right solidified control of the remaining 3 (A referendum to drastically cut the number of parliamentarians was simultaneously approved by a large margin). My understanding is limited by having to use translation services .

Prelude; In January the PD led centre left ( centro-sinistra ) coalition held Emilia Romagna (home of the now questionable Emilian (co-operative) Economic model started under the once dominant (Euro)Communist Party (PCI, that title now hijacked by a remnant Stalinist sect afaik) whose continued importance is argued over elsewhere) . After months of street mobilisation by left inclined youth movement Sardines, a Lega threat was repulsed. No one was sure how these elections would go either, with such a mobilisation not possible for one, and polls again predicting close results in 2 of 4 centre left bastions Tuscany and Puglia. Marche in the east was written off due local factors afaik (5 star insisted on their own list for one, there is no transferable vote system, but a complicated mix of 1st past the post and d’Hondt Pr), with only Campania around Naples thought safe.

The populist extreme right consist of 2 parties, Lega descended from the separatist Lega Nord which once included supposed left nationalists like Salvini himself, and Brothers of Italy (FDL) descended from the neo-fascist MSI, strongest in the centre and south.

These 2 now dominate the so called ‘centre-right’ (centro-destra ) coalition, in fact Bersucloni’s Forza Italia and the older centre-right fragments are now just minor players, but a confusing factor is the lists of personalities like that of Lega’s Zaia, President of Veneto.

The centre-left also resorts to these personality lists, the PD’s DeLuca in Campania being the most significant.

On the preliminary exit polls the reporting paper above called it a draw (increased turnout due the extended voting and the close opinion polling may have saved them again?). Despite further increases for the extreme right, the centre left help the 2 most important regions in doubt Tuscany and Puglia (the latter without Renzi’s centrist party or 5star which were nice if small bonuses for them).

However the extreme right solidified their marginal control of the once centre-left Liguria around Genoa in the North and gained the long centre-left Marche (along the East coast) as well as holding Veneto by a landslide due personal popularity of the Lega leader Zaia, seen as a competent Salvini opponent within Lega. Valle D’Aosta a minor region in the north has it’s own localist politics (leaning well right wing afaik) which were strong in addition to the pop ext right Lega.

Again on the bright side, the centre left held Campania around Naples by a competing landslide. However the local PD president (the former communist) DeLuca courted the old centre-right vote big time (judging by his crediting them after the result) .
The overall result should secure Zingaretti’s (compared to Ed Milliband by Jacobin, see below) leadership of the (in part) communist tradition Democratic Party (PD) as the arch-neoliberal Renzi’s party flopped badly in regions where they ran in opposition to the main centre left (Puglia and Liguria) . The far left who ran 3 competing lists in Tuscany lost their last and only regional council seat there afaik. Their incoherence continues (see also the Jacobin Italia complaints below).

Despite their populist referendum gambit of reducing the size of the legislature passing with a large margin, it didn’t help them retain support, and 5 star are reduced to a minor party (as polls predicted). Unfortunately even where they joined with the PD in Liguria, Lega could not be stopped (it can be guessed Lega took a lot of their old support). Where they competed they were mostly reduced so far into single digits % as to not make a difference. Municipal council election were held as well, the analysis of which is beyond me as yet.


Alternative coverage at the (sort of) old libertarian communist paper ‘Il Manifesto’. It allows 3 free reads every 5 days if you are registered and has a weekly English edition (the latter isn’t good on Italy though) . It seems to agree with the assessment of the centre-left Repubblica in the main.

However the complete lack of excitement on both Jacobin’s main and Italian outlet is striking (compared to their close observing of the US and UK elections), As much coverage was given to the death of an old communist founder of Il Manifesto (also with Il Manifesto), and a not great piece on the coinciding referendum was written by someone in Australia. Paulo Gerbaudo an academic in the UK now, speculates on what the future might bring along with a scattering of other seeming desultory pieces. Some embarrassed bemoaning of the far left’s incoherent strategy while hoping for the emergence of ‘Democratic Socialism’ Corbyn or Sanders style.

This translation of a desultory piece concentrating on Zingaretti last year might be summed up by ‘at least he’s not Renzi, but’. The long depression of much of the Italian left is yet to be lifted. I hope they can find some room for hope in the results.

Somewhat late analysis in Italian which hopefully will be better translated than Google Translate can manage on the English site soon . It talks about the continued disarray of the Left of the left/far left (my understanding is far from complete, but a very muddled situation with 2 stalinistic ‘communist’ parties, a Trotskyist dominated coalition PAP that previously was wider, and a more reformist Sinistra Italia in places which is a remnant of the once sizeable Refondizione Communista which split with the neoliberalised side of the PCI who now exist in the PD. More ‘soft left’ bits appear to be in the centre-left coalition if not in the PD, but some of the harder left may have joined too). The loss of their last regional seat is confirmed (in Tuscany) and explained as a combination of tactical voting for the center-left and pointless sectarian lists/vote splitting. A yearning for better tactics is expressed but there does not seem any solid ideas on that front as they seem caught between working in the center-left and working outside it. On the wider front the extension of the great leader conundrum (personalization of politics exacerbated by the Pandemic) to Italian regional elections is examined.

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