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UCC Express - Politics, the Parody

“Je suis Charlie”. It is a phrase that will remain etched in the collective psyche of the world for some time to come, a phrase which passed the lips of almost every western world leader in recent weeks. We are Charlie. But are they? Are we? January wasn’t a good time to shine an investigative light on to global politics. In recent weeks, in scenes reminiscent of an elongated political parody, we saw a collection of world leaders march in solidarity through the streets of Paris, to defend and promote the idea of free speech, the correct response to such an attack on it. Yet, only two weeks later we witnessed them mourn the death of the King of Saudi Arabia, in the very same month Saudi Arabia’s oppressive regime was giving 1000 lashes to Raif Badawi for attempting to exercise the same free speech the leaders of the ‘free world’ professed to care about so much. Remember, this was a right so fundamental to these leader’s societies that they marched through sombre Paris streets, hand in hand, to defend it. You genuinely couldn’t make it up!

Depressingly then, politics doesn’t seem to be just a dirty business, but a business bereft of any sort of moral principle. Why were flags flown at half mast for the leader of a monarchical regime, which has lashed rape victims, regularly and publicly beheaded citizens, and for all intents and purposes seems to have held an ideological position which directly contradicts that of the ‘Free World’? The cynic in many of us identifies that dirty black poison which Saudi Arabia produces by the truck load, as being the possible motive behind the selfish and selective annulment of the west’s relationship with its guiding principles. Is our thirst for energy and economic growth so cardinal to our government’s agendas, that our most basic emotion as a collective people and world, that being humanity, is so easily forgotten about? It would seem so.

This points to an even wider issue with politics at large. Not alone is it laced with hypocrisy and contradictions, but it now appears to no longer even be controlled by people or societies, but by money, oil and the 1%. We see this when politicians schmooze with economic elites in Davos. 1700 private jets, emitting carbons by the bucket load, simultaneously touched down in Switzerland just last month, to discuss the economic implications of climate change; it’s like another scene in our political parody. The wide scale abuse of societies and our planet continues as nation states, influenced by the media and politics controlled by this 1%, grow ever more selfish. As long as economies are growing, sher who cares about depleting global resources, rising temperatures, unsustainable population growth, oppressed societies, starving children or the extinction of a wide variety of life on our planet, sher haven’t you a few bob in your back pocket. Aren’t you alright Jack! 

There has to be another way. Consecutive governments in our beautiful and proud nation, and throughout Europe, have risen to power off the back of lies, misinformation and corruption. The idea of widespread revolution scares me, but a movement of significant change sits with me much better. A selfish part of me doesn’t want change; I worry what change will bring, but the rational side of me knows it is absolutely necessary, if not for you and I, certainly for future generations. Contemporary politics is rotten. When Lucinda and Mr Hobbs are being put forward as our best hope of reform, you know something is seriously amiss. A conservative Fine-Gaeler and a media hungry ‘financial advisor’ are not the answer to our problems. They never will be. 

They say you get the politics you deserve. If that is the case, we, as citizens of Ireland, and the wider ‘Free World’, need to take a long, hard, critical look at ourselves. The promise of tax cuts and a shovel of tarmac in the pothole at the front gate must no longer hold the appeal it clearly has until now. The politics of greed, elitism and corporate power has brought us to a tipping point. If we have any respect and hope for our children’s future, it’s time to not only embrace change, but to bring it about ourselves. Contemporary western politics has proven itself to be all about rhetoric and no action. It’s time to accept that and change it. It’s time to take back control.

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