- No one I imagine is so stupid as to believe that truth or even an approximation of truth is derived from counting pieces of marked paper and that the largest pile of papers is it. What makes democracy so fragile is the certain knowledge, even by the winners, that it is often wrong and if they think it’s right now, then it’s either been wrong at some time in the past or will be at some time in the future. There is then a shaky agreement on both sides of a democratic debate that there is some more fundamental reason for using this method to make decisions than that it is always right. In Western Europe over the last century or so that shaky agreement has not always held together and indeed it still is far from ordinary worldwide. A common everyday reason why most people accept democratic results is that they are rarely always on the losing side. And in the case of government elections they can have another opportunity to persuade the majority that the opinion they hold is correct and hope that the mistakes of the previous few years are not so very bad. On a much deeper level however respecting the “will of the people” comes from a profoundly scary place.
- A Republic of Innocent Dead Cannot Live (June 4, 2018)
- We have avoided the post-colonial nightmares of many a former British subject. Though that may arguably be because we were a nation, and not a randomly drawn jurisdiction without regard to ethnic loyalties or geographical sense, as were so many of the “countries” that emerged from Empire. We pride ourselves, not without cause, with only one Civil War since the foundation of the State and none within the 26 county area since the enactment of said Constitution. All’s well that ends well? Except that history is a process not a destination, and “well” or not it certainly hasn’t ended. And the foundational legal document of the State grows more convoluted with each amendment and increasingly difficult to define, even in the ordinary sense of a degree of certainty.
- A New Constitution for a Real Republic (July 27, 2018)
- We simply don’t do optimism or pessimism, we do logistics. That is our calling and duty, neither to stir up false hope nor dash incipient possibility. To work with what we have to achieve what we can, neither over nor understating it. So stating it straight, I don’t know what the outcome of the election will be with the single exception I guess that we will not be talking of a National Government after it. There is still the enormous extent to which the Irish people “trust” the devil they know, and there are as yet insurmountable difficulties for a new party to make revolutionary progress through a corrupted structure.
- New Year Message 2020 (January 1, 2020)