Mar 2006

Hello Ireland

Just what the world needs right? Another new blog.

But at least in this case, the world isn’t getting another new blogger. I used to blog at cloud23.net, then more recently I had a blogspot blog, and now I’m back at my own domain.

“Numero 57” is a George Orwell reference by the way; “The Quiet Road” is from a Talking Heads song. And although “The Quiet Road” neatly sums up where my head’s at just now, I’m hoping that “Numero 57” doesn’t also become an appropriate choice rather than merely a powerful image.

But what’s “The Quiet Road” going to be about?

Ah, the question on everyone’s lips.

Accepting, of course, that you define “everyone’s lips” as the lips of the three people reading this.

In truth it’s going to be “more of the same”. So all those who are familiar with my previous blogs should feel free to mutter “So it’s just a trumped-up redesign then!” The rest of you should feel free to remain none the wiser.

It’s a cruel world and no mistake.

My recent move from London to Dublin will shift the emphasis of my political writing a little. Though probably not as much as one might expect. From an historical perspective Britain has always punched above its weight politically (so to speak). Clearly the actual power possessed by that small industrial nation has waned considerably since the days of Empire. Nonetheless, much of Britain’s influence still remains.

Part of this can be attributed to its absurdly disproportionate military power for its size. With a tiny handful of exceptions, the British armed forces could effectively reduce any nation to a smouldering pile of rubble should the order be given. And even that tiny handful wouldn’t fare well against the British nuclear submarine fleet.

And part of it can be attributed to the silly idea of having five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Five nations who can veto any decision made, and who – by and large – dictate the terms of any debate on the world stage. Incidentally, it is no surprise that the other four permanent members of the Security Council also have fleets of nuclear-missile-bearing ships patrolling our oceans. Little gangs of genocidal terrorists.

It’s a simple fact that the longer those fleets are out there waiting for the order to murder hundreds of millions of people, the more likely it is that the order will be given (in anger or in error). That the human race sees fit to take such an enormous risk with its future is probably all the evidence that the Climate Change lobby needs to pack up and go home. By backing up political power with the threat of human extinction we have undeniably entered an age of deep nihilism.

Those of us who warn of Peak Oil or Climate Change or Unsustainability just can’t compete with a system threatening to murder us all if it doesn’t get its way.

Which isn’t to say that local Irish politics will be pushed aside by the Big Global Issues. Sometimes the apparently “small” stories can be illustrative of important points. Points that get obscured by the bombastic fog of International Affairs. And let’s not forget that British politics are actually very important here in Ireland. After all, they still occupy a quarter of the country (ooooh… see how I, not so subtly, set out a broadly Republican stance through my use of the word “occupy”? You have to watch out for bias like that in the media. Absolutely scurrilous.)

Interestingly, just as Britain has long puched above its weight, politically speaking; so Ireland has done the same culturally. And for almost exactly the opposite reason. Britain’s political influence was wrought with economic and military dominance. Ireland’s cultural influence was a product of oppression and economic hardship.

Thanks to a millennium of occupation by our nearest neighbour, the Irish gained the dubious gift of having just as much ownership of the global language as the English, or later the Americans. Then a rich literary tradition, geographical proximity to the cultural centre of the world (London), and the economic hardship that created global emigration combined to allow even average Irish writers to gain far wider audiences than the best Belgian or Swiss or Danish ones. It’s no surprise then, that when Joyce or Beckett or Yeats came along, they would shake the world of literature to the core.

Which is not to say that I intend to deliberately shift focus from politics to culture because of my change of city. I shall – as always – merely continue to tackle those things that inspire me to write. Though I do intend to be more disciplined about it, and try to post a bit more regularly.

Well, here’s hoping…

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