Here’s an absolute law that applies to all commentators writing about Irish politics.
If you write an article analysing any aspect of Irish politics without referring to political corruption or even mentioning the word ‘corruption’, you are wasting your own and your readers time because you are not addressing the raging elephant in the room.
The latest in a long line of commentators to break this law is Dr. Liam Weeks, lecturer in the Department of Government at UCC.
In an Irish Times article, Dr. Weeks repeats the well-known fact that the traditional political parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour, are suffering a serious loss of support from the electorate.
He gives two reasons for this development – a declining level of attachment to parties and the collapse in support for Fianna Fail.
However, he makes no attempt whatsoever to explain to his readers why citizens are rejecting mainstream politics in their droves. He could do worse than have a look at this blog where he will find any number of articles outlining the reasons for this development.
Here, for example, is what I wrote on 15 June last. Again, I was writing about the chronic inability/unwillingness of political commentators to recognise the elephant of political corruption.
The emergence of a new politics is directly related to the fact that the old regime (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour) has, over many decades, loyally served the corrupt political culture of clientelism, gombeenism and stroke politics rather than building a functional, properly accountable democracy.
I suspect Dr. Weeks is not actually aware of this truth. I suspect he operates in the same bubble in which most other political commentators operate. In this bubble he sees the Irish political system as democratic and, for the most part, functional – it is neither.
In order to keep the bubble from bursting Dr. Weeks must, consciously or unconsciously, enter what I call ‘the zone of denial’.
So, in his article Dr. Weeks states the problem – that the electorate is rejecting mainstream politics. He then enters the zone of denial where he can safely ignore the reasons for this development and instead skip to how events will affect the outcome of the approaching general election.
In other words, he describes the past and predicts the future while steadfastly ignoring the reality that connects them – political corruption.
Of course, Dr. Weeks is by no means alone in this. Read the opinion pieces in any newspaper; listen to the many discussion panels on radio/television and you will witness endless analysis surrounding corrupt events but you will never, ever witness any discussion of corruption as a subject in and of itself.
The reason for this is as simple as it is stark. If the disease of political corruption is acknowledged it will have to be acted upon and if that happens it will destroy the corrupt political system so carefully created over the decades by the mainstream political parties of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.
These parties and their many supporters in the media will not easily surrender their privileged and powerful position.
Fortunately, while commentators like Dr. Weeks operate comfortably in the zone of denial, an increasing number of ordinary citizens are taking matters into their own hands.
The days of the old regime are numbered.