Prester John I Presume

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m entirely without hope for Irish Politics and the bureaucracy that cossets it. Well you’d be right, but not entirely. Hope springs eternal and I’m actually more optimistic about our future than I seem. Honest…

In the Fifth Crusade, around 1218ce, the Christian Armies, led by George Bush II and a young Dick Cheney, planned to fight through the Egypt, march on Cairo and on to Jerusalem. The Crusaders were resoundingly beaten at the first battle with the Muslim Armies of Sultan al-Kamil. Embarrassed and impotent, the leaders fought among themselves over the terms of surrender offered from Cairo. Then, just when all hope was gone and the Christians were faced with ignominious retreat, leaving the holy land to the Saracens, nothing less than a miracle happened. God will provide, you see.

Word reached the camp that a huge Christian army was speeding to their aid, crushing all in its path; a powerful and unbeatable military. So vast in numbers as to leave its identity in no doubt. For only one man could summon such a force, Prester John.

It was said that Prester John ruled over the largest, richest and most virtuous kingdom known to man. His was the closest thing to heaven on earth. Milk and honey flowed freely in a land of mythical creatures and miracles. The exultant Crusaders were in no doubt, they need only hold out a while longer and Prester John would crush the Saracens and restore the holy lands to Christendom. God is great.

How wrong they were! The army sweeping towards them, crushing all resistance was soon to form the largest land based empire ever seen. But it wasn’t the army of the Fantastical (Man with 2 Pints) Prester John. It was the army of Temujin. The Mongols were coming and they cared not for the gods of Christian, Muslim, Neoliberal Capitalists or any other deity. The only cared for Tengri, the God of War.

So what? Where’s the hope and optimism in that tale? Well, I’ve been told repeatedly that my Utopian dream is too Utopian. I get hammered for thinking it’s criminal that in a country that gloats about exporting enough food to feed 50 million people, we have children going to school hungry. I’m too idealistic and thinking kids should be fed makes me a dreamer. Come on; is this the country you want to live in?

No, we need to find Prester John. (Wouldn’t it be great to find out our Prester John is not only real but is actually Prester Jane? Surely we know the old boy’s network needs disbanding. Prester Jane is my preference.)

We need a Statesman or Woman with a vision for a fairer and more equal society where the citizens build and share in the wealth of the country. A country for people and not at the behooved to Markets, Bondholders, Capital Markets and Multinational Companies.  A place we can be proud of.

First off, forget about the Incompetent Incumbents. Their brand of Trickle Down Economics has given us the fastest growing wealth inequality in the western world. They have the societal vision of Goldman Sachs. And you can forget about the previous cohort, their soil is poisoned beyond repair. They grow nothing but rehashed thoughts of “Returning to the Glory Days”. They cater to Paddy Pothole and the politics of “What’s in it for me?” The taglines change, but the core values of cronyism; nepotism and corruption are alive and well in the FF/FG & Lab mausoleum.

From this point on it’s about You. You must pick a politician of character and conviction and crucially, one who has a vision. A vision you think is both desirable and practical. Now, take a leap of faith, imagine this untested Politician(and his or her party) has the ability, courage and tenacity to make that vision a reality. The decency to put people at the centre of it. From there, anything is possible.

But, But, But (that’s 3 buts for emphasis) it will only work if You pick wisely. If we keep voting in the same “Pretend Prester Johnny”, nothing will change. There are some politicians of great potential among the herd. But unless you, each of you, give serious thought to whom among the plethora of mundane sameness has a Utopian vision that isn’t too hot (or too cold), but is just right (or Left) enough for you, then I’m afraid our saviours will continue to be false prophets. All you need is a little bit of what a pal of mine calls “the give a shit factor”. Take ten minutes to think about it… it matters… please.

Sure, what have you got to lose? There are only two options: pick the Prester John or Jane you can believe in or wait in dread for the return of Genghis Khan.




4 thoughts on “Prester John I Presume

  1. Oh, I am the first to read this history lesson.

    I am a scientist by background, didn’t do much H&G after the Inter, accounts for a lot, including my iggorance of 1916 et al.

    I would love to pick the Joe or Jane who might rescue us, BUT, in my limited understanding of what you need I don’t have a clue!! To be honest, on a cursory think, nobody leaps to mind.

    Is that what is wrong? we don’t have anybody qualified and/or willing to rescue us?

    I await with bated breath the input of the more informed.

  2. A very good and witty insight into our politics and social system. Einsteins definition of insanity prevails, why do expect something different if we keep doing the same things? Politics is no different. Be if FF, FG Lab etc it’s the same arse cheeks in different arse shapes and design. We constantly default to the default position of which combination of arse cheeks and rotate them every so often to create the illusion of change. Nothing changes, nothing changes.
    In Homer Simpson’s words ” Default , the two greatest words in the English language, De Fault!, De Fault! De Fault!
    Nothing changes, nothing changes.

  3. I’m kind of torn on this. By which, I mean I don’t disagree with Tony at all, and like other contributors, I can’t think who Prester Jane might be out of the candidates I see popping up in recent weeks. Not even Councillor No”L” Stone breaks the mould. On the other hand, and admittedly at a tangent, the curious little version of democracy that we practice (a) prevents anyone from seizing absolute power and (b) in its marginal elements produces positive aberrations – two female presidents who by their presidential and post-presidential activities contribute something genuinely worthwhile (in the case of Mary R, exceptionally so), a referendum system that has peacefully and progressively provided a forum for social change which is accepted and implemented without rancour (most recently, the Marriage referendum) and a Comstitutional Convention which suggested, amongst other things, a right to housing for all (that one didn’t make it past the press release). In all cases, where we give the plain people of Ireland a chance to express themselves, we end up with reasonable, often progressive, solutions.

    Hence my sense of conflict – surely if we get what we want when we ask the people to vote in one context, we get what we deserve when we vote in a general election? The problem is, I think, the parties and pressure to get voted in at regular intervals (not a problem unique to Ireland). And maybe the reward system – which favours the effective pothole filling parochial plonker over those who think seriously about the long term. So here’s a suggestion: let party politics reign over filling of potholes and lamppost straightening and representation at political gatherings and all of that. But for anything that impacts the lives of ordinary people – like setting a budget, or changing laws with significant social consequences, hold a referendum. It might sound daft, but it is technologically possible, and might make everyone take a real interest in what is going on around them.

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