Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hunter commentators and the vanity of ignorance

Colm O'Doherty: It’s true, every cloud has a silver lining. The ongoing political crisis - stemming from the failure of politicians to increase social well-being in a period of economic growth and then reducing the well–being of vulnerable groups - creates an opportunity for hunter commentators in the media to “kill” those who stand in the way of the hunters.

As Bauman points out in Liquid Times (2008), hunters are unlike gardeners, not interested in social order or social progress. They are the economistas whose sole task is another kill or financial coup big enough to fill their game bags to capacity. It is not their duty or responsibility to make sure that the forest or society is looked after and replenished. In fact, as one of their ilk declared yesterday in the Irish Times, it’s not their responsibility to know anything about how society works – it’s not her worry.

Sarah Carey in her piece yesterday paraded her ignorance on how the state is run and declared that it doesn’t matter who is at fault in creating our financial destruction, as long (the implication is) as she can continue to gather a few trophies for herself. Yesterday the trophy heads belonged to the people who provide us with electricity. Her piece was titled Sorry boys, it’s your turn to share the pain now. Her message is clear – we should all become hunters now – because the alternative is relegation to the ranks of the game, i.e those on social welfare.

The culture of hunting in our society is very strong, and commentators receive their licence to hunt from a media/ political establishment that likes to hunt in packs. It stands to reason that, in a world populated mostly by hunters, ignorance of the consequences or realities of individual actions becomes a source of pride or vanity. The 'I don’t know what happened, I only want it fixed' attitude is an abdication of responsibility and a badge of honour for hunters. Yes, hunters do vote, but presumably they vote without taking any responsibility for how things pan out. Through their hunter-commentator platforms they provide perfect cover for the politicians who have run the country into the ground.


Martin O'Dea said...

Colm, in a more polite time your comment might be seen as a little harsh; the reality at this juncture is that it could easily be viewed as understated.
Thanks and well done.

I think a really useful exercise would be for all parties to consider strongly believing,for a while, what they see to be their arguements' counterpoints . I have done this numerous times and have even blogged here looking for others to reassure me when I began to doubt that such a vast majority of media/politics/influencers could be intentionally/accidentally so wrong.

I feel that many contributors on the 'progressive' side have come from many years of contemplating the world from those counterpoint beliefs and moved beyond them - what I would love to see is someone who trumpets the current government approach honestly analyse and consider yours and others points of views.

Sometimes dictators are born from good leaders because once you have erred on a massive scale you can't feel that you can apologise when the many are baying for your blood - and so you defend yourself and delude yourself all at once believing that the only way to survive is to believe in what you have been doing all along; and the only way to believe in that is to ignore all the evidence against it.

While that might be of interest in a university anthropology class it cannot be allowed to influence the future of our democratic society

Michael Burke said...

@ Colm

The hunter analogy is a fascinating one.

It put me in mind of Roger Casement's investigation into the slave-like conditions of the African men, women and children forced to collect rubber in the Congo under the Belgian King.

In his Inquiry, he interviewed an African member of the Force Publique (paramiliary guards overseen by the Europeans) about why he was hundreds of miles from home and was astonished that the man had volunteered for this foul and bloody work against fellow Africans. But, the man replied, it is the same in my village as here, and "I decided it was better to be with the hunter than the hunted."

Eventually though, after much heartache that system too was overthrown.